update: someone left a bullet casing on my desk

Remember the letter-writer who found a bullet shell casing on her desk and was scared to go to work? Here’s the update.

Getting over the shock of a bullet being left on my desk took me a few days. My coworkers and I had to process and move on.

I had an escort (a fellow coworker) walk me to my car nightly. He is an ex-cop, whose desk was moved directly next to mine. The first few days, he literally held my hand while we walked to my car.

Our employer was really understanding, but unprepared for a serious “what if” situation. We read our “active shooter” protocol. After which, my coworkers (many of us are veterans) realized if we ever had to deal with an active shooter, we’d be in trouble. Our only recourse is to run, hide, or do a combination of both.

The protocol says for us to throw things at an active shooter. Unless we’re tossing a grenade, we don’t think a pencil is going to frighten an active shooter. We still do not have metal detectors or cameras in our workspace.

I earned a promotion. I can work from home. I’m not sure, nor will I ever be able to prove it, but I believe the bullet on my desk drove my employer to expedite my being out of the office.

Thanks everyone for all the advice. It made me feel better.

{ 364 comments… read them below }

  1. Jaguar*

    I was really hoping there was an innocuous explanation for this whole thing, but I guess not :(

    I’m glad your company is being so pro-active about the situation, OP. Stay safe.

    1. paul*

      It highlighted how different cultures are for me…if someone left brass on my desk I’d take it home and reload it. Hell, I spotted a coworker’s sister ~150 rounds of 9mm once, brought it to the office and let her take it to her sis.

      1. sunny-dee*

        This. I’m sure there are cultural differences. I think my coworkers in the Northeast would freak out, but not so much here in Texas.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yep, this was the big debate on the original post. The comments there made it clear that people’s take on this varies wildly depending on geographic location and in some cases field. We’ve basically established that people have widely differing views on this based on the context they’re in, and I don’t think we need to rehash that here.

          1. GreatLakesGal*

            I agree!

            What really freaks me out is that their active shooter protocol is to throw things at the shooter…most protocols seem to stick to variations of Run, Hide, Fight. Maybe throw things is meant to be included under Fight?

            1. Dweali*

              Yep throwing stuff is part of fighting…that way if the armed intruder is carrying a knife your not with in slashing/stabbing reach and if it’s a gun then just maybe the armed person will reflexively duck or block the objects

              1. Working Mom*

                I actually saw a documentary about active shooter protocols. As part of it, they showed two role-playing scenarios. In both cases a well-trained firearm operator was used, with a paint-ball style gun. This was a classroom style setting. In the first scenario, the students huddled together in one corner of the room. In the second scenario, they used strobe lights and balls and spread themselves around the perimeter of the room. When the “shooter” breached the room in the second scenario, he was not able to shoot his paint balls with much accuracy, as he was disoriented from the balls and strobe lights.

                I thought it was a really interesting comparison; one that you wouldn’t think of initially, but made a lot of sense. Now this wouldn’t work long term, but assuming this criminal was moving quickly, he/she would not likely stick around and keep trying – but rather move on to easier targets.

                *Please forgive my terminology, trying to use the least offensive ways to describe these role playing parties, but no matter how you phrase it that scenario is terrifying.

            2. Pipes32*

              Correct, your eyes generally automatically follow anything that’s thrown at you without specific training to combat this. So throwing an object at a shooter, even if it won’t stop or harm them, may be enough for their shots to miss as their eyesight is pulled away.

            3. INTP*

              Throwing things at the shooter sounds like a good idea for the group, but a bad idea for the individual, unless the gun is already pointed at you. It might interfere with aim and eyesight but it’s also going to draw the shooter’s attention to the direction it came from, i.e. you.

              And frankly, I am not going to draw an active shooter’s attention just because it’s company policy. I feel like I’d be concerned about getting out of there alive foremost, and helping my coworkers do so second, not the other way around.

              1. KarenD*

                You are 100 percent correct. Our active-shooter protocol is
                1) evacuate, even if others won’t go with you.
                If you can’t do 1:
                2) hide, if possible behind a barricaded/locked door.
                If you can’t do 1 OR 2:
                3) Yell, throw things, do anything else you can to defend yourself.

                But my self-defense teacher did offer the reassuring advice that throwing things can be surprisingly effective, especially if you’re throwing things that are small, heavy and easy to aim (staplers, weighted tape dispensers, paperweights etc.) He told us to look at our desks and identify things that we could throw. I actually traded in my tape dispenser for an older, heavier one after that…..

                But OP’s company is nuts. They have advanced security equipment available at cost and they’re not using it? That’s crazy.

              2. LadyCop*

                Run. Hide. Fight isn’t just cimpany policy. Throwing things (like chairs and hot coffee) isn’t just company policy it’s a Federal standard that nearly all Law Enforcement agencies and business follow.

              1. Joa*

                Having an active shooter protocol is very common in business of all types, especially ones that serve the public. The hope is always that it never ever has to be used. However, if the worst case scenario occurs, that’s not when you want to be thinking about your reaction for the first time.

                1. Anon for this*

                  Yep, this. I guess I just think of it as completely normal to have a protocol, since we did in college and in both of the places I’ve worked since graduation. It’s the same as any other disaster response plan: you hope you’ll never use it, but when the worst case happens you’re able to handle it so much better. The college I attended actually had an active shooter situation while I was attending and it was really good that there were official protocols for locking down the campus and notifying all the staff and students (I didn’t have any classes that day, so for me it was basically “stay home and lock your doors”). I should note that it was not one of the major shootings of the last decade; the killer ultimately took only his own life. It was sad and it was traumatizing for the people who were near where it happened, but without knowing his exact motives for what he did, it’s quite possible that simply removing people from his path saved lives.

                  I get that it’s alarming in terms of what it says about our culture, but tbh I’d be a lot more worried if I rolled in to a new job and they didn’t have an emergency manual that included instructions for that kind of situation.

                2. JustaTech*

                  It’s like having an earthquake protocol, or tornado protocol, or fire evacuation. You hope you never have to use it, but you have it so people have *some* idea what to do. (Earthquake and tornado are similar: hide under furniture, stay away from windows. Active shooter is more like fire: run if you can.)

      2. James*

        Seconded (thirded?). I would assume it fell out of someone’s pocket and they thought it was mine. I’ve had bullet casings in the pocket of a jacket on accident (I was taught to police my brass), and practically every male adult and half the females I know hunts, so I wouldn’t think much of it. Someone was careless, and someone else cleaned up after them and made a mistake. Odd, and I’d ask who’s it was (some folks here re-load rounds so they may want it back), but that’d be the extent of it.

        Unless there was an actual threat involved, I’m just not sure what the fuss was about.

        For the record, I say this as the victim of gun violence. I’ve been shot at twice, and was #3 on a guy’s hit-list when the police arrested him. I’m not dismissing this because I don’t understand the fear of gun violence; I’ve been there. I’m honesty not understanding what was the actual issue here.

        1. Anonymoosetracks*

          Well, OP didn’t say where they were, but in many parts of the country where guns/hunting are less common, leaving an anonymous bullet or shell casing where a specific person is meant to find it is a common non-verbal threat. Like how it would be a threat to, say, mail someone a picture of the outside of their house to suggest that the photographer knows where they live/is watching them/etc.

          1. Another Manager*


            Guns are not common in my neck of the woods and are expressly prohibited in my workplace. I would’ve interpreted this in a similar way as the OP.

            1. Anonymoosetracks*

              Me too- I live in an area where a gun store tried to open up a few months ago. It got picketed like people picket abortion clinics in other parts of the country, like with dead baby signs and stuff. I work in a law enforcement-adjacent job, so it wouldn’t bother me to see ammunition at work even in a context like OPs other than that it would suggest someone was being careless, but if I, say, found a bullet or shell casing in my home mailbox, no one would ever assume it was anything but a threat.

            2. SystemsLady*

              I live in an area where shotguns have extra lenient laws around them and are found a lot of places. Even here, a bullet casing at work would be interpreted as a threat. The culture just doesn’t mix those two sides of somebody’s life (in a good way, “people read the room” more than “go away hicks”)

          2. anonderella*

            just seconding the location aspect – in my hometown, it would be just as likely that it came from a hunter-type person or someone involved in a gang. in my current city, where I am still unused to the culture, I would have no idea and that might scare me more.

            if an office is ok with concealed carry, then it better stay concealed. if OP’s office is ok with it, this should, even as a precaution, point to a necessary talk about keeping guns/parts concealed.

          3. Joseph*

            Exactly. It’s the context that matters here. Most notably, it’s OP’s office/cube. This isn’t a break room or conference room or other area where tons of employees gather. I mean, how often do you go into someone else’s office when they aren’t in there? Probably not often.
            Also, if the photo was the exact way that OP saw the bullet, then it’s also pretty unlikely that a bullet would just fall out of someone’s pocket and end up exactly aligned with the base of the monitor.

          4. Shazbot*

            Even in parts of the country like mine, where hunting is definitely common, bringing a firearm or firearm paraphernalia to the workplace (and leaving it on someone’s desk) would be considered wildly inappropriate. I work for [federal agency with so many instances of workplace violence there is a vernacular expression for it] and something like this would 1) be considered a threat warranting a facility lockdown, and 2) if it were found to be simple carelessness it would result in the bullet’s owner facing severe reprimand along the lines of being detailed to Alaska without prior notice. And that’s if they kept their job.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Yes, this. I’ve lived in many different geographic areas where guns/bullets are more and less common, so I understand that differences in context change how folks view this (but I don’t want to rehash those issues, as they’re thoroughly discussed in the original post). Nonetheless, for certain jobs/professions, no matter where you are in the country, a bullet casing left on your desk is tantamount to a death threat.

        2. Jaguar*

          Hahaha, what? Is there some situation that makes all the gun violence and pre-meditated planned gun violence (!!!!) against you understandable or do you need to think about moving somewhere less insane?

        3. Sadsack*

          Do you seriously not understand why someone would be rattled to find a bullet on her desk with no explanation? I don’t care how many times you have been shot at, that should still raise concern.

          1. James*

            No, I seriously do not understand it. Bullets were a common thing for me, and have been pretty much everywhere I lived. Plus, my reasoning isn’t “I’ve been shot it, it’s no big deal”; I said that to pre-empt the inevitable nonsense of “Well, you just don’t know what it’s like”.

            My actual reasoning is that there are NUMEROUS INNOCENT reasons for a bullet casing to end up on a desk, and that WITHOUT ADDITIONAL INFORMATION the reaction APPEARS excessive. I provided examples of how it could happen. I’ve capitalized the parts of that sentence that I imagine people will ignore when responding (due to previous experiences discussing firearms, not on this board in particular).

            So yes, I cannot understand the leap from “I found a casing on my desk” to “We need to discuss active-shooter situations as a company/office/whatever”. The number of assumptions the person would have to make is simply too great, and the number of innocent explanations not being adequately considered is simply too high.

            Please understand, I’m not saying that the person is wrong to think this. My argument is ONLY directed at the logic provided (and I’ll admit I haven’t read the original link in a while so I don’t recall it in much detail). The person could very well have additional reason they feel uncomfortable providing, or that they didn’t think to provide, or something. This happens, for a variety of reasons–most of them, to be clear, perfectly valid reasons! But it means that as presented I do not see how to get from “I found a casing on my desk” to “I’m concerned about active shooters”.

            1. Aurion*

              Without rehashing the original debate too much, the fact is that a bullet casing is associated to a deadly weapon. There are numerous possible innocent explanations for the casing, but only the OP can determine if any of them are probable based on geographical location, company culture, etc. Given the OP’s reaction, I think it’s fair to say that these possible explanations aren’t the probable ones, otherwise they wouldn’t have been so startled. I don’t think the OP needs to fully justify their fear since they are the ones who know their location and workplace culture best. We the readers don’t need to understand it, especially since this issue is so divisive. We just need to respect the OP’s reaction and advise them accordingly.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I would recommend reading the original story, because I think it will answer your question in greater depth than is possible in this thread.

        4. Leatherwings*

          I don’t mean to start an argument, or rehash something that happened on the original post, but I’m not sure this is a compassionate response. OP would presumably know if casings were normal in her area, and moreover her instincts told her it was off. That’s worth listening to, and I think brushing it off or coming up with a billion logical explanations that may or may not be applicable isn’t helpful. The whole issue for OP was that she didn’t know if there was a logical explanation or if it was a threat, and even a small possibility that it’s a threat means she and her workplace shouldn’t brush it off.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Yes, this seems like a subset of the ‘take the letter writer at their word’ thing. I assume that the LW has a reasonable grasp of the culture and environs they live in and know where on the spectrum of ‘normal’ to ‘upsetting’ to ‘actively threatening’ this falls.

            Sort of like, to use a much less provocative example, if someone wrote in saying “My feet hurt all day but local company culture is that I can’t wear sneakers to work, what can I do?” it would be not helpful for me to reply “Sure you can, I do it all the time–hell, some of my coworkers wear flipflops!” Even though it’s true for me, and for a lot of people in my industry and area, I can take them at their word that that is not culturally true for their locale/industry/company.

          2. bopper*

            Let us all read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker again…which tells us that if something feels hinky, trust your gut and assume that something is amiss instead of talking yourself out of it.

            1. TootsNYC*

              And which also says, “take reasonable and measured responses; don’t just get hysterical, bcs that’s not helpful.”

              I think the solutions that happened in the OP’s case were reasonable and measured.

              It’s probably always a good idea to review the “active shooter” strategies now and then, and doing so when someone in the office has had a scare is probably wise. It certainly doesn’t hurt, and it’s not hyterical or unhelpful.

              Ditto having someone walk her to her car. I notice that the person held her hand the whole way, which isn’t actually that smart if there is a threat (esp. from a gun), but it probably indicates that the “bodyguard” wasn’t actually sharply worried about a true danger and was more worried about the OP’s feelings of safety. (Her feelings of safety are important to preserve, if you can do it without being hysterical and unhelpful–I don’t think having an voluntary escort is either of those.)

              1. Leatherwings*

                I think that given that there was virtually a zero faith effort to figure out what was actually up with the bullet casing, that it wasn’t sufficient. I think people now and on the original thread affirmed that OP had cause to be frightened but I’ve seen very little hysterics. There’s a difference between those two things.

          3. Artemesia*

            The casing was not lying on the floor, it was PLACED carefully on HER desk in a private cubical. There are no plausible innocent reasons for that occurring.

        5. k*

          It’s funny because I can’t imagine this not being seen as a huge issue (just again highlights the cultural differences). I live in a large urban city where hunting is not popular, nor is it possible unless you travel very far so it would be very very odd for someone to just have a casing lying around. We have a high rate of gang related gun violence, so that is what guns are associated with around here. Even if someone has a legitimate reason, such as having recently returned from a hunting trip, they wouldn’t be throwing it around at work because they would know how out of place it is.

        6. Elizabeth*

          Not everyone has formed (nor wants to form) such a comfortable relationship with guns as you might have, and as such a bullet or bullet casing left anonymously on someone’s desk could make many people feel deeply uneasy (at best) and absolutely afraid (at worst).

        7. Shannon*

          The actual issue is that in many places in the US, anonymously leaving a casing on someone’s property is a threat that you are going to shoot them.

          1. sunny-dee*

            Except in this case, there was no other threat.

            I think that’s why the cultural issue even came up — there was simply nothing else from the OP that would have indicated any threat or attack. Like, if there had been any other weird behavior or notes or phone calls, that would have indicated a pattern. But in some parts of the country, simply leaving a bullet on someone’s desk wouldn’t even nudge the fear-o-meter. I mean, obviously, the OP is in a place that does, but even at that, with absolutely nothing else that would indicate a threatening environment, this doesn’t jump out to me.

            1. Gandalf the Nude*

              I’d say the company and coworker response described here indicates they are in an area where it’s considered a threat. You seem to be missing the fact that in cultures/regions other than yours the bullet on the desk is not just threatening but is a threat in and of itself. It doesn’t need any other weird or scary behavior. It is a threat on its own.

              1. Leatherwings*

                Yes, and instincts totally matter. It’s a disservice to OP to tell her she’s overreacting or it’s not a big deal when you’re not there. I find it so rude that people are dismissing her feeling of fear here.

            2. paul*


              If I’d been arguing a lot with someone and that showed up? yeah, I’d be upset. Or if a client had threatened me adn that showed up? Yeah, again.

              Just out the blue though? Not really….and the fact that she *took* it as a threat doesn’t automatically mean it was meant as one since we don’t have any other context clues.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                Her supervisors were “just as confused as I am” according to the original post. They did not say “Half the people here have ammo in their pockets, someone must have dropped one.” We need to take the LW at her word here.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              The issue was that the bullet casing itself is the threat. It’s like stalking—someone creepily calling you is enough to be freaked out. They don’t have to break into your house and write on your bathroom mirror or try to kidnap you or send multiple creepy letters before you decide it’s a “serious” threat.

              I understand that there are folks whose cultural context doesn’t see casings as threats, but for those who are having trouble overcoming that context to understand why someone—in a completely different cultural milieu—may feel threatened, please read the discussion in the original post. Raising “why is that a problem?” questions at this point serves two purposes: (1) It attempts to undermine the idea that there are jobs/places where a gun casing is a legitimate death threat; and (2) it’s a low-level way of telling the OP she was being irrational or over-sensitive, and both of those factors are more about invalidating or minimizing the OP’s experience than attempting to address the issue/problem she raised.

    2. Temperance*

      It honestly took me a minute to realize the issue after reaading the first letter, because, well, where I grew up, seeing bullets left around is fairly common. I realize that it sounds ridiculous, but I’m from Pennsyltucky.

      1. Hotstreak*

        I remember a lively discussion where many people said it would be no big deal to them. Also a lively discussion RE: how there was no actual bullet, just a casing (not sure if spent or unspent). The fact that many people don’t make the distinction goes to show how cultural differences come in to play.

      2. MillersSpring*

        I’m in Texas, grew up with guns in the house, have known and/or dated many gun enthusiasts, and have shot guns at a range. I’ve lived in small towns and huge cities. And I would be Freaked. The. F—. Out. if I found a bullet or shell casing on my desk.

      3. Shazbot*

        “Left around” is one thing. In your backyard, in the woods, in the gravel of the parking lot.

        But put very purposefully on your desk at work where you will see it?

        1. Jesmlet*

          Eh, I don’t know… in parts of the country where recreational gun use is a lot more common, I could see it happening where someone had policed their brass and it fell out of their pocket while at work and then someone close by saw it on the floor and put in on the nearest desk. It just goes back to where you live.

          1. Temperance*

            That’s what I was thinking. I’m totally behind LW and am absolutely not trying to discredit her very real fear.

          2. Shazbot*

            I live in a region with a great deal of recreational gun use.
            You don’t bring bullet casings to work.
            If one fell on the floor, by wide-eyed innocent happenstance, the place for it is the trash.
            This is not about “culture.” I get that a lot of you have guns as a hobby, but pretending that finding a bullet (or part of one) on your desk out of the blue is no big deal in a country that experiences gun violence so frequently as to elicit yawns when it’s splashed across the front page, is, to put it very bluntly, a little too precious to be believed. It’s intellectually dishonest and I reject the argument in its entirety.

                1. paul*

                  “pretending finding bullet (or part of one) on your desk is no big deal”

                  Yeah, he kinda did? He called it intellectually dishonest to act like we wouldn’t make a big deal out of it too.

              1. embertine*

                Welp, you’ve spent the conversation assuming you know that LW is over-reacting, despite not knowing anything about her cultural environment and admitting you haven’t even re-read the link. You also assumed that Shazbot is a man, despite the username. I’m sensing a theme..

  2. Wendy Darling*

    My company’s active shooter policy also suggests either running and hiding or attempting to fight back, and I too was always completely bewildered by the “fight back” part. I am not going to take on someone with a gun with a stapler or a screwdriver.

    I had access to a couple secure storage rooms so my plan was always to hole up in one of those. :/

    1. Leatherwings*

      Well it’s in order, right? Run if at all possible, hide if you can’t run, and fight back only as a last resort. That’s a pretty recommended response to active shooters.

      1. Sara*

        That’s what mine says too. When we had active shooter training they said the “fight” part is what you do if you have absolutely no other options. And when you do have to it’s more about trying to distract to make it harder to shoot accurately.

        1. Seal*

          That’s what they told us in our active training class. In fact, they gave us all stress balls and had us throw them at our head of building security (who was a good sport) to demonstrate how hard it was for him to walk down the aisle while being pelted with small objects.

      2. Cordelia Naismith*

        Right — it’s fight back as an alternative to “lie down on the ground and wait to get shot.” Much better to run away if you can.

        And, of course, the fight back advice only applies to active shooters, not to hostage situations or people who are threatening to shoot but who haven’t yet.

      3. I used to be Murphy*

        I read (yesterday, I think) about some people advocating changing the language to “move, escape, attack” since that works better with how our brain processes a crisis situation (run may be the wrong command if it doesn’t overcome your freeze response, whereas move specifically tells you not to freeze), escape reminds your body of the threat against you (get the F away), and attack is more proactive than fighting (do something!).

        Same basic concept, but I thought it was an interesting shift in language that may resonate more with people in a crisis situation.

        1. Emi.*

          This is really interesting! “Move” and “escape” both sound more proactive to me, so the jump to “attack” (or even “fight”) would be easier to make. “Run/hide/fight,” always sounds to me like “Flee in terror/cower in fear/suddenly reverse course and become a superhero.” Not that fleeing and cowering aren’t normal responses to being shot at, but it would be hard for me, mindset-wise, to switch to fighting if it came to that.

          Can you explain how “move” is more anti-freezing than “run,” though? I don’t understand that part.

          1. ancolie*

            I’m thinking it might be because “move” is more of a superset while “run” is a subset within that superset. Moving could be running, or it could be pretending you’re onstage in Riverdance, or even just drumming your fingers. I’ve been frozen by (shock, more than fear), and really, ANY movement that I could manage was enough to help me snap out of it.

            Survival mode generally shoves higher reasoning processes aside for the limbic brain (basic, sensory, instinctual) to take over. So maybe it’s easier to break through if you use more simplistic commands. I vividly remember, while standing frozen, actively thinking “why are you just standing here?!?!?! Are you stupid?” etc., but I stayed locked in place until I thought, “MOVE YOUR @$$!”. :D

      4. Wendy Darling*

        Maybe our training was poorly worded, but it definitely made out like these were your three completely interchangeable options, and explicitly told us to try and decide ahead which one we would do. If it meant to imply there was a preferred reaction, it epic failed, because multiple coworkers had the same response I did.

        I suspect either someone misinterpreted how that was supposed to go or just delivered the information poorly.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Ohhh, I have a feeling your training was not delivered as clearly as it should have been. As others have noted, every active shooter training I’ve had has been an escalation—you move, if you can’t then you hide, and if you can’t do that, you fight. I think of it in the same way as “stop, drop, and roll”—if you’re trying to “roll” while standing, you’re not going to put out a fire.

        2. Sunshine*

          Yikes. I saw a good video this week after the Ohio State incident that explains it pretty well. You should look that up, and share with your coworkers.

    2. fposte*

      I think run/hide/fight is pretty much the standard, though. I don’t think “fight” is so much about your ability to take down an attacker with a water bottle as to provide a psychological nudge away from compliance as a strategy. Coldly speaking, even if I can’t do much damage with my extra umbrella, I might slow an attacker down enough to be a benefit to others who can escape in those extra few seconds.

      1. Leatherwings*

        Yes. I hate even typing this out, but the logic is that you’re more likely to save your life or the life of others when running and hiding has already failed by throwing something at them or charging them than you are begging for your life or standing there frozen. It’s just to encourage the response that’s likely to reduce loss of life as much as possible.

        Horrible to even think about.

      2. Hotstreak*

        I think you’re right. ‘Fight’ is what you’re supposed to do when the alternative is ‘sit still and be shot’. As far as weapons go, things like a chair, an unplugged computer monitor, a cup of hot coffee, etc., are all effective weapons, especially when used by multiple people simultaneously.

        If you’re hiding with a group of people in an enclosed area, you can tackle the shooter when they enter the room even if you don’t have any training. It is seriously hard for one person to hold off a group of people in close quarters. Like you say, someone is probably still getting shot, but you’re not all getting shot (and that one shot might not be well placed which will also help survival).

        1. Tinker*

          A good while back, I took a class at my local gun range that basically ran various scenarios using fake guns and roleplaying. Well, I’m a larper and a martial artist…

          One particular scenario, I was playing the part of a bystander in an active shooter type situation at something like a mall. So I was milling around, trying to hide, et cetera. I see one of the folks who has got a gun trying to shoot at the shooter guy, and what occurs to me is this: As a bystander, how do I know that this guy isn’t the whacko — and how is he going to explain this to me? So I yell “He’s got a gun!” and charge flat-out at the guy from maybe like 20 feet away or so, from the side, while he’s engaged at shooting off over there somewhere.

          What I THINK is going to happen is that he’s going to notice me, and the challenge to him is then that he needs to manage to not shoot me and also provide some sort of constructive directions to me. What ACTUALLY happened is that he 100% completely failed to notice someone screaming and running at him from the direction his stance was weak in, and I remembered at the last second that physically mauling another student (the mental image that was forming in my mind was basically to plow him over while going for his knees and wrists and then deploy ugly smashing from wherever we ended up) was not within the rules of the scenario. So I pulled up short right before I would have tackled him and ended up standing next to him going “uhhhhh dude?”, looking at the instructor going “uhhhhhh dude?” and basically being awkward for some seconds until he suddenly noticed, turned, and shot me. I’m not entirely sure what would have happened once we landed on the ground, but I’m pretty much certain that he would have ended up being on the ground and that thereafter there would be a nonzero chance of something involving eyeballs.

          I ended up drawing a lot of conclusions from that class, many of them perhaps not being those expected by a gun range that is putting on active shooter scenario training, but one of them was that while ceteris paribus I would far rather take up motorcycling than berserker charges at someone armed with a firearm (I do not motorcycle), doing so might actually be to some degree effective — perhaps only enough so to enable the second or third person to succeed, but in certain circumstances that still counts as the better option.

          1. Aurion*

            That’s actually a really interesting point. I’m speaking as a Canadian who is much less accustomed to guns than many Americans so perhaps this is ignorance speaking. But for those who have open or concealed carry and are shooting at the shooter, isn’t there a very real chance that people will mistake all shooters as threats? It’s not like everyone in the vicinity necessarily saw the whole scenario unfold.

            1. OlympiasEpiriot*

              I think the stats show wider gun ownership in Canada than the US; here in the US, though, those who buy guns frequently buy more than one, often a lot more than one, so the number of guns out there does not equal number of gun owners and the perception gets skewed.

              And, yes, there is a lot of potential for getting mistaken for the initial shooter. People with proper training for security response deal with that. Frequently they identify themselves somehow, like “Police!” or even “Security!” But, there’s a lot of variety in that. Obviously, if you are just some civilian with a pistol, you may not *have* anything official to say.

              CnC people are mostly not trained beyond standard range training, ime. Tinker’s description of the class sounds actually useful. My anecdotes from various acquaintences tell me that is rare. Personally, I’d like to see all CnC applicants have to do through extensive tire house training, target shooting in multiple scenarios, threat i.d. tests, etc., etc.

              1. Aurion*

                Wikipedia shows much higher guns per capita in the United States vs Canada. Are we looking at different stats? (And does CnC mean concerned citizen? I’m lost to the acronym.)

                Most people I talk to don’t think of guns like, at all. I’m not even sure what’s available out there in terms of actual training for the public (law enforcement and government probably train on the job as it’s prudent to have this sort of thing, but general Jane Doe? No idea).

                1. Hotstreak*

                  What OlympiasEpiriot is referring to is not the # of guns per person, but the # of people who own at least one gun. While the USA has more guns per capita, they are concentrated, with super-owners collecting dozens if not hundreds of guns. So while the USA has more guns per capita, we also have a higher % of households with zero guns (at least according to this post). It’s not surprising that nobody you know talks about guns, that’s really common in a lot of areas of this country. But you’re balanced out by folks in my neck of the woods with collections of 200+ firearms. Or non-collectors who tend to own 3 or 4 guns (a rifle, a shotgun, a pistol, a plinker, for instance).

                  CnC means Concealed Carry (a permit allowing a person to carry a firearm inside their purse, jacket, pocket, etc). Otherwise

                2. TK*

                  I think what OlympiasEpiriot is suggesting is that the per capita stats don’t tell the whole story (which of course no statistics ever do). What s/he is saying is that though the per capita ownership rate is higher in the US, a larger percentage of the population actually own guns in Canada (what is meant by “wider gun ownership”) because the average American gun owner owns many more guns than the average Canadian gun owner.

                  In other words, while the American ratio of guns:population is much higher, the Canadian ratio of gun owners:non-gun owners is actually higher. I don’t know if this is true or even something that statistics are kept on, but I think it was the meaning here.

                  I’m pretty sure CnC is being used for “concealed carry” here.

                3. TK*

                  Hotstreak made my point more articulately.

                  FWIW, I don’t think this claim is true– while I can’t quickly find online sources that look both up-to-date and reliable, some Googling seems to indicate that the percentage of households that own at least one gun in the US is somewhere from 35-45%, and in Canada somewhere from 17-25%.

                4. KSM*

                  CnC = Concealed Carry

                  And Olympias addressed the per capita thing — Americans who own guns buy MORE guns.

                  Unfortunately, despite that, Olympias was wrong about gun ownership being ‘wider’ in Canada. At a per-household level, 25-26% of Canadian households own at least one firearm (source: Firearms, Accidental Deaths, Suicides and Violent Crime: An Updated Review of the Literature with Special Reference to the Canadian Situation) while 32-38% of American households own at least one firearm (32% comes from 2014’s General Social Survey).

                5. ANewbie*

                  I think the US has a much larger veteran/former law enforcement population than Canada, so there are more people with military training, and many of those people then offer firearms classes at their local range, beyond just the basic classes some states have to help with getting carry permits. For other training, there’s professionals with YouTube channels, multi-day specialized camps/courses, and militias sometimes offer classes (though you probably wouldn’t find that without already being a regular at range or rod and gun club). For those who think militias are scary, keep in mind that in some states all citizens with voting rights are officially members of the state militia, though they haven’t been called on since the civil war.

                6. Lissa*

                  I’d also suspect that in Canada most of those guns are hunting rifles and similar, not handguns etc.

                7. OlympiasEpiriot*

                  Nesting has progressed to where I can’t reply to Hotstreak and TK, et cetera.

                  Yes, CnC=conceal and carry.

                  Thanks for the stats. I was going off memory from 80s/90s. I think there’s also been a huge growth in private gun ownership in US in last 20 years.

                  Ime, in Canada, the firearms were mostly for hunting. In the US, I’ve been rather surprised over the years at gun owners who have dozens. I have been in a few homes with a room that makes me think I’ve just stepped into a gun shop.

                  Also, although there are (depending on where you are) classes available, what is required is limited. I definitely know people who have bought all manner of arms w/o any training whatsoever, including things that have no use outside of battle. This probably just says something about the broad spectrum of people I meet.

                8. Aurion*

                  Thanks, OlympiasEpiriot, Hotstreak, TK et al! Can’t believe I didn’t make the connection for the acronym; the ‘n’ threw me off.

                  Honestly, all I know about guns are from an (admittedly pretty decent judging by the reviews from actual gun owners) RPG book and tidbits from one of my friends. I can follow along when people who actually know about guns start talking about it, but that’s about it. (I once asked a police officer at a coffee shop if his sidearm is a Glock like all the stories. He said it was a Sig. My coffee-mates were giving me O.O looks for asking. That sort of gives you an idea about how Not A Thing firearms are in my circle.)

                  I learn so many things on this site!

            2. Turtle Candle*

              When I had active shooter training ten years ago, I was told that while getting the gun away from the shooter was a good thing if you could manage it, hanging onto it was not–and definitely not to try holding it on the shooter–because we might very well be mistaken for the shooter and shot by the police. Sadly, I believe this has actually happened. (The recommendation was to get rid of the gun or make it inaccessible–throw it out a window or down a stairwell or even pull a heavy bookcase over onto it–but not to hang onto it so as not to cause potentially fatal confusion to the SWAT team.)

            3. Rebecca in Dallas*

              Yes, this is absolutely true. I live in an open carry state and my city (as you may or may not know) had an active shooter during a downtown demonstration. The people who were open-carrying weapons (legally) absolutely added to the confusion.

            4. Tinker*

              I recall vaguely some time not long after Columbine, in which there was an extended period of police waiting outside the school while various negative outcomes were still ongoing inside, that tactics were updated such that any police officer that showed up was to go in and that while hopefully officers arriving later would be able to identify them before shooting them, if they didn’t… “that’s the risk you take for doing this job” I think is how it was put. And I don’t know of active shooter scenarios specifically, but police officers have actually shot other officers in circumstances that are basically similar.

              So I’m not super educated on this subject and it’s probably bordering on outside the scope of this discussion to really get into it but… seems legit?

              1. sunny-dee*

                Nope, police are not required to go into an active shooting situation. Obviously, many do, but they are not required to.

            5. Artemesia*

              During the attack on Gabby Giffords a guy showed up with a gun and nearly shot someone who was trying to take down the shooter. Luckily he realized he didn’t know what was what and so didn’t open fire killing a few ‘good guys’ trying to protect others.

            6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Yes; we were actually given a safeword in order to verify that the person was law enforcement, not the shooter. Of course, that assumes that no one in the building is the active shooter, which is sadly no guarantee.

            7. Elsajeni*

              Yeah, it’s a real risk with the “armed bystander intervenes” scenario. I don’t know of a case where a bystander with a gun has actually been mistakenly shot or injured, either by other bystanders or by police, but there have been cases where it’s come close — Artemisia mentioned the attack on Gabby Giffords, and a few months ago when there was the attack on police during a protest in Dallas, the police department publicized a photo of someone who’d been legally open-carrying as part of the protest as a suspect, apparently for no other reason than that, hey, he was seen in the area of the shooting carrying a rifle.

          2. Arielle*

            That would absolutely 100% be my reaction to a gun – any gun – in my workplace, and why I would really strongly hope that anyone who carries a firearm to work informs their coworkers of that fact. If there was shooting in my office and a coworker pulled a gun, I would assume they were on the side of the bad guys and that their weapon was a threat to my life.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            This is EXACTLY why it’s not recommended to try and take on a shooter with a weapon yourself–when law enforcement arrives, how are they supposed to tell who the whacko is? Their job is to neutralize the threat. And the threat is someone with a weapon. Just get out if you can.

            1. Tinker*

              Yeah, this also. There was a later scenario in which I had a gun and was near someone without a gun, We started basically from the intersection of a T, with the shooter somewhere in the vicinity of the base and an exit at one of the ends of the cross. So my part in the scenario was basically — the minute the shooting started, I instantly hoofed it to the exit and was like: “I got here without being shot, I succeed. However… where the hell is the guy without the gun?” He had stayed there. I have no idea why. It didn’t go so well for him.

              The folks who were putting on the class were former military folks, and I think in the case of that scenario they were a bit biased towards the expectation that one would engage at least enough to escort bystanders out. From my perspective though I AM a bystander, regardless of what I have or have not got in my pocketses, and it seemed obvious to me that if the exit is over there and there is nothing keeping me from it, then the exit is where I’m going to be.

              1. SystemsLady*

                My husband told me a while ago that at least the Navy has changed (?) their training to include “run hide fight” if you’re in civilian mode, and that includes obscuring things that identify you as a member or veteran of the US military.

                Varies and in some cases is confidential when you’re not in civilian mode, but it sounded like they were targeting that kind of thing with that training.

          4. anonderella*

            Tinker, I have a dumbly off-topic comment – love your writing style! Your comments are humorous and thoughtful.
            That’s my random complement for the day – aw who am I kidding, cashier with a cool sweater..

            I also studied martial arts for years; lot of sparring incidents where you realize you’re about to possibly seriously injure someone (like your red-belt brain going, ‘Look, that thirteen year old yellow-belt left his groin open —- welcome to the hurt locker!!’), or do something you suddenly realize you’re not allowed to do (like in point-sparring & such), and you stop and make eye contact long enough to miss their counter-move, and wind up stunned on the floor like you forgot where you are.

          5. Shelby Drink the Juice*

            I’m in Texas and during active shooter training the local PD head of SWAT said that during an active shooter situation if you have a gun you will be perceived as hostile and you will slow down getting the real attacker. I work for the same company but a different facility now that’s federal property, so technically no guns in cars (but there probably is). But there’s a lot more armed security here with hand guns and M16 like riffles.

            BTW, our active shooter training is run, hide, attack as well.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Same. I worked in a federal building, also, where it’s a felony to have a deadly weapon (mace, nunchuks, knives of a certain length) if you’re not authorized law enforcement. After an active shooter drill debrief, one of my non-law-enforcement coworkers asked if she would be allowed to bring her gun—which she apparently kept locked in her car in the parking lot… on federal property. She’d apparently been doing this for over four years. The marshals and her supervisor had to have a difficult conversation with her, but the short version for the rest of us was no, law enforcement will think you’re the shooter “neutralize” you.

      3. BRR*

        Unfortunately having a fresh reference with Ohio State, run/hide/fight is given in the order you should do it. Fight is a last resort.

        1. catsAreCool*

          The way I figure it, if there’s nothing else I can do, I would want to throw things, fight, whatever I could do other than stand there and wait to be shot.

      4. Emi.*

        I think the “psychological nudge” is important here.

        Also, most advice/procedures I’ve seen recommend fighting back in groups. I can’t take anyone down with a waterbottle, but if I throw a waterbottle and a mug, and you throw a desk plant and a book, and so on, we might distract an active shooter long enough to rush him. (I question how feasible this is without group training and regular drills, though–when I started taking martial arts, it took a while for my instinctive response to getting choked switched from “panic and freeze” to anything effective.)

        1. Dweali*

          In my active shooter it wasn’t so much that you wanted to rush the shooter but to have another chance at getting away

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Oh, interesting. I’ve had 4 different trainings in different contexts, and they all literally advise throwing things as an evasion tactic so you can run away (i.e., don’t try to actually fight the attacker, even in groups).

          1. Emi.*

            Now that you say that, I don’t think the things I’ve seen explicitly advise trying to take down the shooter, as opposed to attacking him enough to re-escape, but they do advise banding together with anyone else who’s been cornered near you.

            I have heard people advocating “throw and go,” where everyone rushes the guy with the intent to take him out finally (and accepts that some of them will die but it’s better than everyone dying), but I don’t think it’s caught onto the mainstream (especially in schools).

      5. AndersonDarling*

        Also, if the policy says “fight” then it lets employees know that they will not be punished/fired for attacking an intruder. I hope I’m not thinking about being fired if there is an intruder in my workplace, but who knows.

      6. A. Non*

        My husband is a high school teacher. Their active shooter training had a different twist on it, since they’re trying to protect kids and they’re in a very rural area where the gap between the first shots fired and the cops showing up in enough force to stop the shooters can be up to an hour. So they were advised to evacuate and/or hide the kids, grab a blunt object – keeping a t-ball bat in their classroom was recommended – and go on the hunt. Since school shooters are usually untrained and somewhat predictable in how they’ll go about doing what they do, there was more specific advice about when and how to try to get the drop on them. (Doorway ambushes, mostly.) If this sounds chilling, yeah, it totally is. I pray it never happens, because I don’t doubt it’ll be my husband being buried as a hero.

        1. catsAreCool*

          They want teachers to use a bat to hunt after someone with a gun? They sound unbelievably optimistic.

          1. A. Non*

            Yeah, this trainer was a cop and definitely had the ‘I am a warrior’ mindset. It made sense for him. I’m not so sure about the teachers.

            That said, the training also focused on setting up your classroom to attempt to stop the shooter at the door, which makes a lot of sense to me. If the gunman is walking into the room, in most classrooms there’s nowhere meaningful to run or hide. This guy’s recommendation was to hide students behind overturned desks – school shooters generally don’t fire unless they can see people, so visual barriers will slow them down. And when entering a room, most people look across the room. SWAT teams and soldiers train hard to teach themselves to check the doorway for ambushes first, school shooters don’t have that training. So a teacher next to the door with a bat is a semi-reasonable defense option if they’re stuck in a situation where they have to fight.

        2. Cassie*

          I asked some of the high school students in my ballet class about this several years ago, and they said that they were taught to hide under their desks, and if the shooter entered the room – to throw textbooks at the shooter. I thought it was nuts because you’re basically a sitting duck.

          We recently had an active shooter training and the officer said two things that were slightly different from other trainings I’ve heard: 1) leave the building immediately*, don’t wait for someone to tell you to leave; and 2) don’t run in a zig zag if you are running away from the shooter – it just slows you down. * I think the first one could possibly be dangerous – what if you happen to run right into the path of the shooter?

          There was another thing – about how the shootings are usually over in a really short period of time (we’re talking minutes, not hours), usually before police arrive. Even in less rural areas, I expect it’s going to be difficult for police to get there and be able to locate the shooter quickly (especially if there’s more than one building).

        3. JennyFair*

          One of my kiddos, in auto shop class, said the teacher told them ‘What the rules say you are supposed to do is get in one of the oil change bays and hide. What I recommend you do is grab a handy tool and be ready.’ So my kid picked out the tool he’d use on that day (a very large wrench, I believe).

        4. Jane D'oh!*

          So not only are teachers “paid too much” for doing everything else for their students, they’re now supposed to become ad-hoc guerilla warriors too? They’ve already put their heart and soul into their jobs and are told it’s not enough–now they’re expected to give their lives as well. It’s really no wonder people are leaving the profession in record numbers.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      I think the idea is if you can flee, do that. If you can’t flee, then hide. And if you can’t run or hide, then you might as well fight back because at that point, you have nothing to lose that you aren’t going to lose anyway.

      1. Joseph*

        Correct. The run/hide/fight recommendations is not a “pick your favorite”, it’s actually a priority list.
        1.) Your top priority is to run – any time you have the chance to safely run away, you take it.
        2.) If you’re in a situation where you can’t safely run, then your top priority is to hide.
        3.) If you’re then in a situation where you can’t hide or run, then (and only then) do you try to fight. And even then, fighting very well might mean doing just enough to buy you or others time to go back to safely running or hiding.

          1. One of the Sarahs*

            I still chant “Reach, throw, wade, row, swim-with-an-aid, swim-and-tow” by open water as a weird Pavlovian response to my lifeguard training that was MANY years ago!

      2. BookCocoon*

        Our office (which was newly built two years ago) has only one door to the entire suite. We’ve asked for another door to be made in the wall of our conference room (which backs up to the hallway). We’ve asked for a way to break the glass in our windows to the outside. Everything has been turned down. The walls and doors of our individual offices are all glass so there is no hiding if someone were to come in here. It’s kind of terrifying.

        1. Courtney*

          I have a similar problem where I work. I am a temp, and there’s only one way in and out of where I sit. I would be a sitting duck. I don’t think this company has even considered providing options to us, even though within a month of me starting here, a threat was made against the whole department. :-(. It’s a very scary prospect.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            We actually ended up completely reconfiguring our entry and security protocols for this reason—while most folks were behind security doors, one staff person was in an office with a public entry and no cover. After our active shooter drill, we completely overhauled almost all of our security protocols (although we also had the “only one way out” problem).

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          I wonder if one of those tools advertised for breaking out of a submerged car would work on your windows? If I remember right, Mythbusters found them effective at breaking safety glass.

          1. YawningDodo*

            Yeah, google “Life Hammer.” It’s awful that Book Cocoon’s employer isn’t taking their safety seriously and frankly this should have been handled from the top, but if I were in that situation I’d seriously consider keeping an emergency hammer in my desk. They’re actually pretty small; you wouldn’t be trying to conceal a sledgehammer or anything like that.

    4. EngineerinNL*

      Ok I have to ask, is an active shooter policy a common thing in the US? I’m in Canada and I’ve never heard of this before and there definitely hasn’t been one anywhere I’ve ever worked.

      1. Aurion*

        Canadian here too, and I’ve never heard of an active shooter policy in any workplace. Maybe government, law enforcement, or other high security places would have such a policy, but not most run-of-the-mill workplaces.

        I’ve shot a gun. I respect guns a hell of a lot. But given my miniscule exposure to them, I am absolutely tetchy around them and anything associated with them (even just harmless casings).

        1. AshleyH*

          Yup – and they pretty much all show the same terrifying video about run/hide/fight that 100% gave me nightmares. I think it’s on youtube, maybe? I’ll see if it can find it and post it here.

            1. Hlyssande*

              Pretty sure that’s the same one we get. I can’t say that it’s not informative and good at giving ideas for what to do, but it’s also terrifying and I’m always deeply unsettled for the rest of the day.

            2. EddieSherbert*

              Okay, That video totally gave me the creeps! Thanks for sharing so I know what everyone was talking about, haha.

              I’ve never seen that before (none of my workplaces have never gone over what to do in that scenario…. even though ToxicJob had a situation once where the security alarms were set off and then a handgun was found stashed in the bushes outside the side door…!).

        2. Aurion*

          Sorry, I meant to add: the only “run of the mill” workplace I’ve seen active shooter policies is university campuses. They also have a pretty standard “run/hide/fight” priority list as mentioned here. I’ve never seen other run-of-the-mill workplaces have a policy though.

          1. Dweali*

            Hospitals do (or are starting to) alongside the practice disasters and unresponsive/nonbreathing patient drills

          2. Jane*

            I worked for an NGO that gave active shooter training and ramped up it’s active shooter policy before launching a campaign against the international arms trade. The fear was of US-based pro-gun backlash even though the campaign was outward-focused. Women’s health clinics, also, obviously, often do this sort of training.

          3. Mirax*

            The corporate law firm I used to temp at has one, and was installing lockdown security doors when I left.

        3. Trillian*

          Canadian also, not government, and we have a lockdown protocol, because there was an incident in our complex. Don’t think it made the news, but it led to policy and rehearsal. And made me think about how much glass there is around, and how little protection a plywood desk would actually offer.

        4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It’s sadly become almost as ubiquitous as mandatory sexual harassment training.

          The first wave came after the Oklahoma City bombing, when non-law-enforcement-oriented federal agencies/buildings began developing bomb evacuation drills. Then there was Columbine, and schools across the country developed bomb and “active shooter” protocols. (Although I will say that I had active shooter training in the early 90s when I was in elementary school because I lived in a community where drive-by shootings/gang violence was common, and there had been a lot of little kids killed by stray bullets.) And in the past 7 years, there have been so many incidents of mass shootings—at places of worship, movie theaters, universities, government buildings, military bases, shopping malls—that now active shooter trainings have expanded to organizations/companies that never had to do them in the past.

          We have a serious gun violence problem.

        1. fposte*

          Though it’s not like Canada has had *no* school or workplace shootings. And they’ve even had one in the Parliament building.

      2. ThatGirl*

        It has sadly become increasingly common for workplaces and schools to have one, yes. It didn’t used to be.

      3. k*

        I’m in the US, and after reading this I actually looked up our policies to see if we have something. It turns out no. We have a rule that employees cannot have weapons or weapon paraphernalia at work, but that’s the closest thing to mentioning guns we have.

        Though it turns out we have a 3 page policy regarding bed bug prevention. Different priorities I guess.

        1. bon-bons for all!*

          And different probabilities. Luckily(?) you are much more likely to experience bed bugs than an active shooter.

      4. Red Reader*

        Seems to be.

        My workplace requires an annual web-based training on it for everyone, including my department full of 100% WFH staff. I told my manager the last time I took it that if I have an active shooter in my workplace, I’m less worried about the hospital’s policy and more worried about “does my homeowners insurance still go up if the person my dogs bite is an active shooter in their house.” :P

      5. The IT Manager*

        I was in the US military, and I only noticed “active shooter” policies and exercises within the last 10 years. I don’t think it was really a thing before the 2000s. Unfortunately the number of attacks by gunmen has risen enough that many organizations now have active shooter policies and training.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It existed but definitely was not this wide spread. I wasn’t an adult in the 90s, so I’m not sure if law enforcement agencies conducted active shooter trainings, but public schools definitely did.

          From at least 1992, if you were in a community with concentrated gang violence/drive-by’s, then your K-12 schools probably had active shooter policies/drills. And after Columbine (which I think was in 1999), all high schools began developing bomb and active shooter protocols/policies.

          It’s really really sad that we need these.

      6. Bow Ties Are Cool*

        Very common here in the US. I’ve worked in 5 different buildings since the turn of the century (3 different companies) and every one had workplace violence training that included location-specific active shooter scenarios.

        My current office is so drastically open-plan that there literally are not any hiding places (even the offices and interior rooms have either glass walls or no doors) unless you’re tiny enough to fit into a file drawer. So we basically have run/fight. Yay.

        And no, none of the places I worked were governmental in any way. But they’ve all been in the financial industry, where you could maybe almost understand someone going bonkers and shooting the place up, especially in the last decade.

      7. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        In my company, watching the active shooter video posted below is part of our orientation process.

      8. Trig*

        I’m in downtown Ottawa, and after what happened in 2014 with the shooting of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, my office revamped our emergency policy about what to do if there’s a ‘situation’ in the area. It wasn’t specifically to address active shooters, but was the tragedy did make them realise our emergency strategy for any situation (massive natural disasters, attacks, whatever might result in infrastructure failure) wasn’t well-defined.

        The strategy mostly including setting up our regular working hours and emergency contact info in a database, and a phone/IM/email tree to check where staff are (for ‘are you not there because you didn’t you get out of the burning building or were you just working from home’ purposes). There was training on that aspect, but nothing on “someone with a gun is in the building, what do”.

        1. Becky*

          We had an issue a few months ago in our building where a worker got SWATTED at work. The worker was told by the guy who called SWAT that he was going to do it, so worker immediately informed HR and building security so it was nowhere near as dangerous as it could have been in that situation and they worked with SWAT/police, but it did highlight that our emergency and evacuation policies were not well defined or understood. Different people were told to evacuate and depending on what door you evacuated from you were told a different thing to do next. It caused a lot of confusion and disorganization which in a real emergency could be dangerous.

      9. Sam*

        I work at a university in the US, and the depressing reality is that active shooter policies are extremely common in educational institutions here. It’s not something I think about often, but I do feel more comfortable having a plan in place should the worst ever happen.

      10. Crazy Canuck*

        I’ve seen one, as part of a oilfield safety program. It was part of a 400+ page safety manual that no one actually read, which covered so many crazy possibilities that I was surprised it didn’t have something about a possible zombie apocalypse. My understanding is that a lot of rigs in remote locations will have a rifle secured somewhere to deal with hostile wild animals, so it is a possible issue.

      11. Lily in NYC*

        We just had active shooter training at work (attendance was voluntary). But I don’t think it is extremely common – I am positive the main reason we had it offered is because our security chief is one of those “failed wannabe cop” types and it allowed him to play out his fantasies.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I wonder if anyone has stats on this. Because active shooter training now seems really widespread to me, but I’ve also worked primarily at nonprofits, governmental institutions, and public universities with more than 15 employees. I wonder if particular industries/workplaces are more likely to do these trainings than others.

          (Although I’ll say that our local movie theaters all do trainings after Colorado).

      12. Karen K*

        My workplace implemented an active shooter policy and yearly training a few years ago. I work in a hospital in the northeast.

      13. Turtle Candle*

        I’ve never had it at my current workplace (medium-small software company, even the lobby requires you to be buzzed in). My husband, who works at a huuuuuuuge software company with a sprawling campus, did, though.

        I did have it a decade ago when I worked the reference desk at a major university library; there had been a couple big campus shootings at that point. I think in the US it depends hugely on location, industry, nature of business, stuff like that.

      14. Marche*

        I was in high school in Newfoundland not quite ten years ago, and I remember having drills for if a shooter was in the school.

        It made my skin crawl then, and it makes my skin crawl now, that it was necessary, but we did it. I don’t think anywhere I worked had active shooter policies, though.

        1. EngineerinNL*

          Really? I graduated high school in Newfoundland as well (going on 11 years now) and we never had anything like this and it’s not like I went to school around the bay with like 30 people either, I was in town

          1. Marche*

            We didn’t do it very often, I can only remember one for certain, and my class all hovered against the wall while we waited for the drill to end. That was in the Metro Area, probably around 2008 or so, I think?

      15. Elizabeth*

        Hospital here. We’re in the process of implementing a policy, including training, due to changes in state law and the expected impact. Having a policy without having at least sufficient training to make actions reflexive rather than instinctive is a recipe for getting people killed. We’ve already said that we’re not going to have across-the-board carrying of weapons.

        I just took a quick look around my office. I have a music stand, a keyboard stand, an electronic keyboard, 3 side chairs, a large stack of 3-ring binders & bound books and a number of coffee mugs & travel mugs scattered around, all of which would be useful in an active shooter situation. If we had to hide, I also have a private bathroom attached to my office, and the doors to both lock. I’d probably grab the 6 colleagues who are on this hallway with me and we’d all get into one office, lock the door & bar it with a couple chairs, then we’d hide in the bathroom & under the desks. There would be options for makeshift weapons for everyone who felt they could use them if necessary, and we would all do our best to simply wait it out.

      16. Sami*

        Absolutely. Unfortunately.
        I’m a schoolteacher and we had on-going training and several drills per year.

    5. Anon42*

      I think behind the “throw things” suggestion is that if multiple people are all throwing things simultaneously from different directions, the shooter would instinctively put up their hands to protect their head, thus providing an opportunity to disarm.

      1. Margo*

        This. I’m a teacher and during part of our active shooter discussions with local police this is specifically what our police chief mentioned. Throwing ANYTHING will likely make the shooter raise his hands and thus the muzzle of any gun. She advised throwing the biggest things possible – computer monitors, chairs, etc. because those distract more and possibly do damage, but the main thing is the distraction.

    6. blackcat*

      I raised this objection to the “fight” aspect of my active shooter training (I was a teacher). I got the somewhat reasonable response of “Think bigger, like the fire extinguisher or a chair.”

    7. seejay*

      Where does “pee yourself” come into play? Cause that’s what I’d do.

      I come from a country that had hunting rifles as a regular thing that no one thought twice about, but “gun culture” wasn’t a thing. Living in the US has taught me differently but I would still absolutely lose my marbles if someone came into the workplace (or public area) and was actively shooting. I seriously wouldn’t know what to do. Knowing the whole “hide/run/fight back” wouldn’t do much, my lizard brain would freeze, I’d wet myself, and probably collapse into a weeping, screaming heap.

      So yeah, I would react exactly as the OP did about a gun casing on my desk too. I’d take it as a threat. I also live in a city/urban area that doesn’t have guns floating around as a common thing, they’re around, but they’re used by the police and in crimes and street violence… so yeah, implied threat in my neck of the woods here. :|

        1. Christine*

          I’d join you both. Add hyperventilating along with releasing my bladder. I’m am hoping that someone thought this was “funny” in their eyes, and forgot how the recipient & management would perceive it. Once it was taken as a serious threat the individual wasn’t willing to come forward. So hope it’s that.

          OP so sorry you have had to go through this.

          Working in a university setting, the bullet casing would have scared me to death. I had a boss years ago that had a want-a-be graduate student poor acid on his car. Student just showed up saying he was admitted to the school, hadn’t even done the application process. A mental health issue was involved.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Ha, our security team asked me to be one of our fire wardens – meaning I’d be responsible for getting people out of a specific part of our building during an emergency and guiding people to our meeting spot a few blocks away. I said hell no and told them that I’m no hero and will be running around in circles flapping my arms during an emergency. Or I’d just run out and leave everyone behind and forget that I was the fire warden.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          I *am* one of the fire wardens for my office and we got active shooter training at our last building-wide meeting, but don’t have it for the floor-by-floor fire drills.

          (I’m decent in an emergency. I’m a first-in-last-out kinda person.)

        2. KR*

          I had to help evacuate the grocery store I used to work part time at once when a cooler at the back of the store caught fire. There was smoke filling the air, sirens going off, announcements to leave the store and the smell was nauseating. Believe it or not I had to argue with some customers to get them to leave the store as all of this was happening. No we cannot ring you up right now, there is currently a fire and we need to evacuate. I’m sorry about your full shopping cart but we must all leave the store right now. We have a designated emergency spot, but half of the employees took off to their cars for smoke breaks (I accounted for my entire department immediately)

          1. Liane*

            Yeah, customers can be over-focused, to put it mildly on getting rung up. The store where I worked had registers where the fan sounded remarkably like the tornado siren, except for being much quieter. (Coming from an area that didn’t have the sirens, that is how I learned what to listen for.)
            Customers often asked me, “Is that the tornado siren?” in the same tone you’d use for “How long will the cabbage be on sale?” I would be thinking, “C’mon if that were *really* the tornado siren, you can’t seriously think I’d still be ringing up your stuff? Nope, I ‘d be making Warp 8 to the store’s tornado area, shoving/dragging you along!”

          2. paul*

            We had a similar situation when I was in retail (early 00’s)…when a frigging *tornado* touched down in the parking lot and our managers started screaming for everyone to get to the shelter. Only time I ever shouted at a customer at that job (something like “Leave M-F’ing paper, TORNADO MOVE IT!”)

        3. Rebecca in Dallas*

          Haha, I was “voluntold” to be on our Emergency Response Committee (sounds like your fire warden group), we also did first aid and fire extinguisher training. I do not have high hopes for how things will go down if there was a real emergency.

          It’s funny how people react in a real emergency though. Sometimes the people you think will be running in circles are actually the calmest and vice versa.

          1. Collarbone High*

            My mom is like this. She will practically need to be sedated if someone spills a glass of water, but is completely calm in an emergency. My sister fell down a flight of stairs when she was 2 and cracked her skull on the cement floor, and my mom told 6-year-old me to ask my friend’s mom if I could stay at their house for dinner and to be sure to say please and thank you. Cool as a cucumber.

        4. seejay*

          I have a weird reaction to some emergencies.

          On planes that are experiencing turbulence and jumping around and stuff? I don’t react. People are gasping and freaking, and I just kind of sit there relaxed. My partner actually asked me why I was so calm and it’s literally because “you can’t do anything about it so why bother panicking”. I don’t know why, I just don’t react to it. Granted, the plane hasn’t gone down, so I might have more of a reaction, but I’ve had some pretty serious turbulence and significant drops that had people totally wig out and I didn’t react to it.

          Where I live now gets earthquakes a lot, and similar thing. Not much I can do about it, move to a safe location, wait it out. Screaming, running, panicking, isn’t going to do much. I also grew up in a mining town and the ground shook a lot there so half the time now I barely even notice the ground shaking and don’t react to it, even though I didn’t grow up in an earthquake zone.

          Fire alarms go off in my building, my reaction is to grab the pets and shove them in their carriers and leave. I have it worked out quickly and can pretty much get all the pets loaded in their carriers, with collars and leashes, in under five minutes.

          But yeah… definitely other things I’ll have no idea how I’ll react. Guns? Freeze and wee myself, probably a guarantee.

          1. Tinker*

            I have a similar sort of thing. I was once on a plane that had a failure of the cabin pressurization system over the Rocky Mountains — protocol for that is to immediately descend, as I understand it, which is what happened, and the emergency oxygen masks deployed on the way down. My reaction was more or less…

            1) hmm, this is an unusual maneuver, how interesting
            2) there is a mask in front of my face

            … and continuing on a loop along the lines of the foregoing basically until I stepped over the threshold back into the airport.

            This has been fairly typical of my reactions to stressful situations so far — I get into this cold FIND PROBLEM / RESPOND TO PROBLEM mode where I resolutely and with a narrow focus do whatever I have been trained to do, but what I have been trained to do is what a software engineer who is a bit of a Boy Scout at heart and who listens to the flight attendant instructions thing sometimes is trained to do, not what an elite operator whatever is trained to do.

            It puts me in kind of an awkward place of not wanting to make foolish pronouncements about leaping into action, but also thinking that it’s reasonable to conclude from previous patterns of behavior (that also seem to align with what I’ve read about the way most people tend to respond in emergencies) that I would in fact likely do some kind of goal-focused thing even if that thing might not be the optimal thing, might not be successful, and in most cases would not be terribly skilled.

        5. blackcat*

          I am generally a high anxiety person, but I am one of those folks who is great in an actual emergency. I was once right behind a motorcycle accident (fortunately on surface streets). I spun my car around to block traffic, was out of my car, on 911, and flagged down others and started barking orders.
          “You! Take over talking to 911!”
          “You! Take off our shirt and wrap it around that leg and hold tight!”
          “You! Direct Traffic We need to keep the road open for the ambulance!”
          “You! Put out flares! No Flares!? My trunk is open, flares are in black bag!”
          “You! Keep the guy talking!”
          I had like 5 strangers doing what I told them. The first aid training that I had gotten always said point to someone and say “You!” and demand people do things. As it turns out, that works really well. And apparently I knew what to do.
          The cops arrived shortly after the ambulance and I sat down, exhausted and totally confused by what I had just done. One of the people who I had been shouting at came up and asked if I was military. I looked at her, bewildered, and said “No, a teacher.” I did have my panicked meltdown–after I got home.

            1. blackcat*

              I dunno. I have plenty of faults. I am very boring 99.9% of the time. I am also allergic to my own cat. Lots of reasons not to want to be like me.

              In retrospect, I find it totally miraculous that some strange man took of his shirt in the middle of the street entirely because I told him to.

              1. Emi.*

                That’s Edmund Pevensie’s “sharp voice which people hardly ever disobey” for ya. Good on you!

          1. Wendy Darling*

            I am also a high anxiety person who turns into a badass in a crisis. I think we have so much practice FEELING like the world is crashing down on us that when the world actually does crash down we have it covered. My brain has been preparing me for an emergency my entire life!

            (And yeah, no one wants to be me. I’m pretty sure the many years of living mostly in abject terror before I got the anxiety under control took years off my life and caused my body to try to eat itself.)

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              Yup. It’s like the anxiety goes “This is really a crisis this time? You’re not telling me to chill out? I GOT THIS.”

              1. Mookie*

                Yes. As a highly anxious and otherwise scatterbrained person, emergencies instill in me a sense of calm and single-minded purpose, where nervous energy — normally a hindrance and a curse — can be put to good use.

          2. JB (not in Houston)*

            The “you” thing is true! I’m glad you are spreading the word on that. It’s not helpful to say “somebody do this,” because they freeze or assume someone else will do it.

            I’m so impressed. I totally want you around if I am ever in an emergency situation (and until last year I had a cat I was allergic to, so I understand that type of personality).

      2. Crazy Canuck*

        You know, it’s funny. I was pretty sure once upon a time that I would do the exact same thing (pee myself and run in terror) if someone pointed a gun at me. I was really surprised when it actually happened while I was 19 and working a graveyard shift at the convenience store, and all I could feel was rage. White-hot, fuck you, rage. I refused to give him the money in the till, and told him that if he shot me he better kill me, because otherwise I’d track him down and make him regret it. He just stared at me in shock, then turned around and left.

        The fear, the shakes, and the “what the fuck did I just do” came later. The company (rightfully) fired me the next day for not following procedures. I got committed to a mental health facility for the first time. And ever since, I’ve been called Crazy Dave* which is why I go by Crazy Canuck in these parts.

        *Dave is not my real name, but you get the idea.

        1. Lissa*

          Yeah, you never know what you’re going to do. Which is why I get serious rage about the comments that pop up every time there is this type of incident. “If I’d been there I’d have saved the day” type stuff, or worse, insulting the people who did freeze up etc. yeah and if everyone reacted exactly how they said they would ahead of time things would be very different .

        2. CMart*

          That mirrors my experience being mugged at gunpoint. I reacted with anger and yelled at the guy for trying to grab my purse when I wouldn’t give it to him and screamed at him to get the f*** away from me. And… he did. It was when he was out of sight and the imminent threat had passed did I completely fall apart when the enormity of what could have happened crashed in on me.

          I didn’t get committed though, just a ride back home in a squad car with a nice officer, which panicked all of the people my roommate had over for a party.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Don’t forget pooping your pants :(

        (I didn’t, but a coworker did. Sorry, Al Roker.)

    8. lowercase holly*

      our fight back instructions were to have everyone rush the shooter at once hoping to outnumber and overpower. or if behind a door way, and the shooter was coming in, attack them with chairs or something.

    9. Mike C.*

      Outside of the “fighting is a last resort” thing, the idea is that if a few people run up to someone with a gun in a close environment you’ll have an effect on them. You’re also forcing them to react to you, rather than being allowed to react. It’s still a last resort but it’s better than sitting there.

    10. Hlyssande*

      My company’s policy says the order of operations should be 1. Run and get as many people as you can to come with up, but don’t stay if they refuse, 2. Hide if you can’t run for whatever reason, 3. Fight if they find your hiding spot. But always run first. There’s a yearly mandatory rewatch of the video too.

      This bullet casing thing would have scared the crap out of me too.

      1. Hlyssande*

        Aaaaaand I’m pretty sure it’s the same video everyone else has mentioned, haha. That’ll teach me to comment before reading everything.

      2. fposte*

        My concern is always run to where? You’re not going to be able to get in your car and leave the area, so you just run in a direction you hope is away from the shooter?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ideally, you will have worked out where your exits are in case of fire or other problems, right? So if you can hear what’s going on, get out as best you can. If not, I suppose you’ll have to take a chance on going in the best direction you can figure.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          We had to pick “lockdown” locations. So for example, there was a huge safe (think bank vault) that can be opened from the inside with the proper combination. The office that’s in charge of that safe designated it as their “lockdown” location during an active shooter situation.

          The worst is if you run and there are shooters outside the building. We were multistory, so the 1st and 2nd floor were told it’s ok to just run the hell out of the building and as far away as possible to get help. The 3rd through 6th floors were told they were unlikely to be able to get out before being found, so pick a lockdown place and barricade yourselves in there.

    11. Mirax*

      When I took an active shooter training the emphasis was placed on “do whatever you can to ensure your own survival and stay out of the police’s way. The police are there to stop the shooter, not to rescue you.” I spent days afterward just turning that over in my head.

  3. Christy*

    We get the run/hide/fight training too at my federal office. The video we watch is pretty scary. The whole concept is pretty scary! And really, it’s hard to see what would be a better option other than run/hide/fight. My office has armed guards and metal detectors (federal building) and we’re still taught what you’re taught. I hate to think about it, but fighting back is better than not fighting back if confronted by a shooter. And everything else is about avoiding the shooter, which I’m all about.

    1. RVA Cat*

      The only thing most offices have that I could see being useful vs. a shooter is a fire extinguisher – but that’s more to blind them with the foam rather than actually fight back.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Physically attacking or tackling an active shooter is incredibly risky – but if you’re cornered, cannot run and are not concealed, it is still a better thing to try than just standing there and taking it. Someone doing that has stopped an active shooter or two in the past (usually with much better results for the people around them, than for themselves, unfortunately).

        1. TootsNYC*

          There’s also the “when he’s reloading” opportunity. If “fight” is in your brain as a possibility, you might be more ready to move when the window comes.

          1. Sydney Bristow*

            There was a school shooting at a neighboring school when I was in high school and that is exactly what a couple of students did. They saved a lot of lives.

        2. Kyrielle*

          …also, just from where I am sitting, I have one chair (two, but I can’t pick up the rolling chair effectively), a pretty heavy tea mug (hard plastic, not ceramic; no handle, alas, but it won’t shatter and cut me), a tape dispenser and stapler (both substantial enough to hurt and distract if thrown), and a bunch of small and fairly useless items. If my tea mug is freshly filled I’d have about 20 ounces of water just below boiling, but that’s not likely timing-wise. There’s a fire extinguisher not far down the hall, and I’m able-bodied and capable of a tackle. Also, the sweater on the back of my chair could cbe used for a short-term blinder – throwing it wouldn’t work, but if I had a chance to grab it and take it with me on the tackle it might.

          …yeah, things you hope you never ever have to do. As long as I find out before I get trapped in my office, I have a ton of avenues of escape and good hiding spots. None of them are in this office – my new furniture is ergonomically glorious, all clean lines, and no hiding spots.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Ha, you’re me–we had office safety training at OldExJob, and one thing included was a unit for the receptionist that covered such things. I told the instructor I had sussed out all the weapons on my desk–chair, letter opener, the metal teeth on my tape gun, etc. He told my boss that he’d be more worried about the attacker than about me!

            I do the same thing when waiting in line somewhere. Which way out? What can I grab in case of sudden zombie apocalypse? And I never sit with my back to the door in a restaurant. I can trace this last back to the San Ysidro McDonald’s shooting way back in 1984. That really freaked me out at the time.

            1. Kyrielle*

              *grins* For me it’s not something constant at all – I don’t do the analysis most of the time but stopped and did it here – but it is a steady diet of science fiction! Mercedes Lackey has a few characters get run through “how can I use everything around me as a weapon?” training at a couple points, and once you start seeing it, it’s really easy to do a quick glance analysis. That’s not the only one, just the one I easily think of.

    2. Salyan*

      Allowing the general population to concealed carry would be the best option. If a shooter knows he may be unexpectedly confronted by someone else with a gun – well, IMO, that’s both a pretty good deterrent and way to fight back!

      1. nonegiven*

        If you really look at where these things most often happen, though, most of the locations are buildings like schools or businesses where no guns at all are allowed.

    3. Nye*

      I saw that video, too. I assumed that run / hide / fight was the preferred order of operations – so fight is an absolute last resort. If it comes to that point, I agree that it’s better than not fighting back.

      We also all realized when I did that training that the modern, eco-friendly building we work in has almost no solid walls – it’s pretty much all glass, including office and workspace walls. So basically we’d have to book it to the bathrooms for “hide” to be a possibility. Which is not a great realization to have while watching the scary training video.

  4. NPOQueen*

    I’m glad you’re okay and that nothing has happened to you! I work in a very secure building, but that also means it’s hard to leave if someone gets in, and our active shooter protocol is the same. Basically, we’re supposed to band together and attack if running and hiding don’t work. It’s pretty insane, so maybe that’s a standard? Also, I’m glad your coworkers are amazing, but if this was someone out to get you, that’s putting your coworker in danger too. I can’t believe your company was okay with that.

    Either way, it looks like things worked out as best they could. I hope this is the end of it and there are no more situations like this, because yours was truly terrifying.

    1. Jessesgirl72*

      The discussion in the news after the Ohio State attack this week says that Run/Hide/ Fight is becoming standard, but is still considered pretty controversial.

      Unfortunately, there aren’t too many good reasonable/feasible solutions.

  5. Zip Silver*

    I have my CHL and I carry at work. My active shooter plan is to shoot him. It’s not totally out of left field, as the office is not in ghee best part of town, and there have been armed robberies before my time (many moons ago).

    Check with your employer to make sure they’re ok with you carrying on premises, as many aren’t.

    1. paul*

      in an active shooter situation, Im’ still trying to run first, particularly if they’re carrying a rifle. My little subcompact 9 vs any sort of long gun is *certainly* a dicey proposition for me.

      1. Zip Silver*

        It really depends though. In an open office with cubicles, whoever has a rifle would have the advantage, but in a mazelike office with separate offices, everything would be close quarters.

        Obviously the folks at the front desk know to comply with armed robbers and give them the money. Our petty cash isn’t worth anybody’s life. (except for the robbers, that is)

    2. Mike C.*

      I really, really hope you practice on a regular basis. Protecting yourself in a stressful situation like that is incredibly difficult.

      1. fposte*

        I was impressed by the recent bear-mauling guy (the one who stayed cool as a cucumber and filmed his bloody self as he left the site and headed to the hospital) who pointed out that reaching to get his gun out would have left him lethally exposed, so it was safer for him not to try.

      2. Arielle*

        I also really, really hope that this person’s coworkers know that they carry a gun to work and that they plan to shoot if there is a violent situation. As I said upthread, my first reaction to seeing a gun in my coworker’s hand would NOT be, “Oh, this person is here to protect me.” I would think they were part of the threat.

    3. PK*

      The problem with that is what happens when someone sees that you have a gun and thinks that YOU are the active shooter?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        As I posted above, this is EXACTLY why it’s not recommended to try and take on a shooter with a weapon yourself–when law enforcement arrives, how are they supposed to tell who the whacko is? Their job is to neutralize the threat. And the threat is someone with a weapon. Just get out if you can.

        1. PK*

          It makes perfect sense really. In high stress situations like that, I’m not going to stop and try to figure out which person with the gun is the dangerous one. At that moment, they both are as far as I’m concerned.

          I’m lucky in that I work in a law enforcement environment so the chances of an active shooter are pretty slim I’d think. I’m probably one of the rare ones here who isn’t armed.

      2. Zip Silver*

        The problem with this line of thought is that police response time is several minutes. If you don’t run around brandishing your gun when the police arrive, then you won’t get shot (by them). Gotta let the cops take over when they get there.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          “If you don’t run around branding your gun when the police arrive, then you won’t get shot”

          I think we have seen quite enough stories of people getting shot by police while very much not brandishing guns to know that this is not really true.

        2. Crazy Canuck*

          Alright, I’ll go there. Only a middle-class white guy would be so unconcerned about the police shooting you while armed at the scene of a mass shooting. I suspect everyone else is aware that it’s a not a good plan.

      3. Blue Anne*

        Yes. This is also why my Dad thought it was dumb to carry a weapon with plans to shoot-the-shooter.

        Dad was a NYPD cop, turned criminologist, turned expert witness on police use of force, turned police training commissioner. Testified in cases like Ruby Ridge and Amadou Diallo, wrote the training policies for the police and wrote the book on holding them accountable to the training. He was one of the top experts in the country on “The police are trained to put you down in this situation”. I trust his judgement on this issue…

        1. Office Plant*

          Interesting. What were his thoughts on concealed carry and using guns for self defense in general? Were there any situations in which he thought it was advantageous or did he generally advise against it?

          1. Blue Anne*

            There were pretty much no situations in which he recommended civilians carry firearms. He told me that in dangerous situations, being alert would help me more than a gun would, and carrying a gun regularly (even if it didn’t get me shot by officers) was likely to make me less alert because I would feel that I was secure in all situations.

            When he re-joined the department (at a top brass level) they gave him a service pistol again, and he kept it in a safe at the back of the closet as much as possible, even though he had the badge to go with it.

  6. Leatherwings*

    I’m glad you can work from home now, but sad you didn’t get a real response or resolution to the problem. I was one of the people on the original thread who reacted strongly. I still think that your instincts are your instincts for a reason, and downplaying it is dangerous so I’m glad you’re not in the office so much anymore.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      “sad you didn’t get a real response or resolution”

      Right?! The OP still doesn’t know if one of her coworkers intended to threaten her or not. That’s pretty scary

    2. copy run start*

      This is what concerns me the most, not the debate on whether this was a threat. It feels like fixing a computer application problem by just unplugging the machine permanently.

      Regardless, I am glad the OP is safely at home.

  7. H.C.*

    Actually, that’s a fairly typical active shooter response – 1) flee the danger area if you can, 2) if you can’t run, hide in place and block/lock entry points if possible, and finally 3) fight back if you can no longer run or hide (thus – a last-resort tactic; as others mentioned, office furniture/supplies are not much of a match against firearms or objects designed to be weapons.)

  8. anonderella*

    been waiting on this all day – OP, so glad that you are alright, and I hope that this situation is all behind you.

    that said, I still can’t believe that your work didn’t install security cameras – their *own security cameras* !!!!!
    “throw things at an active shooter” ? I’m interested in who wrote that.. not that the scenario would be at all funny if real, but I am dying laughing trying to understand the logic of the person who wrote that XD

    : ( my work has no active/otherwise shooter protocol – and I’m a front-desk person, so my death would be the warning shot to the rest of the building.. yay… – and this is after a coworker I’d never met before played a joke on me (the new person) by pretending to be a drunk, belligerent subcontractor menacingly demanding payment. I played it off, because I was new, but I begged my boss (office manager) to either help me to/come up with her own emergency-upset-client-protocol at the front desk. I begged for weeks, then months.
    (ps: this coworker apologized profusely, and is the absolute nicest guy; just a mean/inappropriate joke, which he acknowledged. we are 100% good now, for anyone who needed to hear that.)

    This happened last December – still no plan.

    What I do have is a terrifying-looking letter opener – I suppose it could do moderate-to-severe damage if thrown… by a freakin ninja.

      1. anonderella*

        haha no.
        I have a dingy bell, like in a motel.

        “(ding ding) GUYS…… (ding ding ding) GUYS…..”

        I’m assuming you mean one connected to an office intercom or better yet, the police. But no, we don’t.

        1. nonymous*

          A tip I got from a receptionist was to keep a can of bear spray on hand. It’s about 10x stronger than regular pepper spray and the canisters are on the larger size.

          1. NotMyRealName*

            Be very careful with that. A local sporting goods store was shut down for about a month because someone’s kid dropped a can of bear spray.

          2. anonderella*

            I have regular (I believe it’s just regular, not bear; it’s supposed to be police-grade) pepper spray

            (side story to talk about my grandmother who was shot and killed 2 Thanksgivings ago – she gave it to me as a Christmas present the year before she died, and with the other hand simultaneously gave my boy-cousin a nice spray-cologne, and tells us “Now, these are for opposite things…” …oh Nana.)

            on my keychain. I don’t know how mine specifically works, because I’ve never tested it – supposed to be illegal to discharge in my homestate – but I have been pepper sprayed accidentally, along with about a dozen others, by a drunk guy at a party who was losing a fight and who decided to spray everyone and run away. If mine works anything like that, I know my chances of not being shot are probably slim, but I may be able to drag myself away while the shooter feels the burn; that also may be enough to prevent the shooter from getting far away..

              1. anonderella*

                Thank you – I realized what I was talking about + who and the date and was like.. well when else will these topics collide. Shout out to well-missed family..

    1. ANewbie*

      What are security cameras going to do? Seriously, that just gives footage of what happened for after the fact!

      1. Kelly L.*

        Security cameras, in hindsight, could have shown who put the casing there, so that someone could talk to that person and figure out what their intent was. Or possibly serve as a deterrent to putting it there in the first place, if it was meant to be harassing.

        They can also, if actively monitored, alert a security department to a situation as it happens, but not everywhere with cameras does that.

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, that’s really kind of self-evident and I don’t get ANewbie’s stance at all – following that logic, you’d just never have security cameras anwhere because they’re not a time travelling device.

      2. anonderella*

        well… yeah..

        but wouldn’t you want that though?

        also some of the outrage at the non-cameras thing comes from OP saying there *were* cameras at her workplace – pointed at the vending machines. Maybe it’s truly not feasible for the company to install them on the entire premises.. but couldn’t we safely assume that the shooter will use a door/garage before going for a snack?

        1. ANewbie*

          Sure, if we had a time machine to put them BEFORE the incident, but what do they gain after the fact? Even if escalation to violence occurred, the security cameras will provide evidence that it happened, but will not prevent it. Even monitored security cameras cannot prevent violence, especially when there is a specific target. Heck, even metal detectors and armed guards will not stop a determined threat – the shooter takes them out first, goes around the metal detector, and proceeds with his mission.

          1. Kelly L.*

            What they could do after this particular scenario is catch the person if they continue leaving “presents” for the OP, for starters, or if they leave another casing for someone else.

            1. Turtle Candle*

              Right. If someone was harassing the LW, they might be harassing someone else. Or they might go on to harass the LW in some way other than jumping straight to ‘bring a gun in and shoot.’ Security cameras can’t prevent violence, but they can help you identify a harasser–which seems like it would be potentially useful even if nothing ever escalated to the point of violence. (Especially as this workplace does have security cameras–they’re just aimed at keeping employees from stealing the candy/soda, not at employee safety.)

          2. anonderella*

            Haha well I can see you are *not* in the security-device slinging game…

            I never said cameras would do anything after the fact, so I’m not sure why you’re picking on that. OP mentions in her update that no cameras were installed, so I am commiserating on that – in fact, in her original post, OP mentions how *ironic* it is that they don’t have cameras, considering the type of company. I think it could also be a great way to show off their wares for visiting clients.
            I think in this scenario they are more for *future* incidents, if they occur – I would think anyone could see that.

            But, here’s what I do see them doing after the fact:

            1) acting as a small, small reparation on the part of the company to OP for not having them in the first place, especially considering what kind of company they are.
            Too extreme of an example? how about:
            1b) acting as part of evidence of the company taking the event seriously and responding to it by doing *anything* to respond to potential future events.
            2) deterrent for anyone thinking of continuing this ‘prank’ – or not prank.
            2b) evidence against anyone who might continue this behavior.
            3) if a gun crime/other crime/future harassment *does* occur in the future, against this OP or someone else, possibly seeing enough of the scenario to tell who was at fault.
            4) evidence for the police to ascertain non-eye-witness accounts of a crime/potential crime.
            4b) evidence for the company owners, if a legal-crime has not been committed but instead something against company policy… like handling guns on the premises when they should be concealed or banned.

            We don’t have proof of anyone walking around with a loaded weapon, intending violence or no. We have potential proof (I’d say pretty damning, actually, considering no one came forward in the wake of re-reading shooter protocols/OP speaking candidly with coworkers who certainly spread around news of the event) that someone has been slinking around making vague-ish threats using bullet casings (!!!). Even if this was an accident, in no way would I expect my company to dismiss it.
            Idk, I’m probably making a moot/redundant argument. This is my opinion, though.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            There’s actually research indicating that security cameras decrease the likelihood that someone will do something criminal if they’re aware that the cameras are there. They can literally not even be recording. It’s kind of like getting a home security system—the sign saying you have a system on your window or in your front yard is a greater theft-deterrent than the actual system itself.

            And there’s value in having evidence of what happened, because if someone does something harassing or crazy to OP, they’re probably going to keep doing it until they get caught. Studies indicate that folks who engage in threats like these tend to repeat and escalate; it’s kind of like stats indicating that a small percentage of rapists are responsible for over 50% of all reported rapes, as opposed to it being a whole cabal of one-time offenders.

            Also, it just seems like a good idea, if you have security cameras like OP’s employer did, to use them for security purposes and not to watch the vending machines :P

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*


              At my last job, you could leave money and expensive electronics in plain sight at your desk without a worry. Security cameras everywhere meant that theft of employee belongings was nil, because you WOULD get caught.

  9. afdasfd*

    The idea of throwing things at an active shooter is actually not ridiculous – it’s not going to block anything but the idea is that it will distract the shooter and make it more difficult to focus or aim.

    1. petpet*

      I’ve heard this as well – that objects flying into the shooter’s field of vision can make it much harder for them to aim. It’s not about the object’s effectiveness as a weapon; it’s about flooding the shooter with moving stimuli. A pencil would work just fine in this regard.

  10. Chocolate Teapot*

    What about throwing a hole punch or a stapler? They are the only objects on my desk which I suppose I could use as a deterrent.

    1. Aurion*

      I realize I’m just theorycrafting here, but if the shooter was still far enough away that any improvised weapon would need to be thrown, I’d elect to run or hide. Any object heavy enough to actually be a threat (so, not my ballpoint pen) wouldn’t be thrown particularly well, especially in a panic.

      A hole punch could be useful in close quarters/melee range if I were cornered and fighting for my life, but that is the last resort when I have no other options left.

    2. Cranky Pants*

      My first thought is to hide in a closet or cabinet, armed with whatever I can find – staplers, pot of coffee, mugs, etc. Maybe throwing that at them if they were to open the door would be enough of a distraction to get away (especially if it was hot coffee).

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yes—go ahead and throw it. Your goal is not to inflict harm (although that helps, and getting hit with a stapler can hurt if it’s a hefty one); it’s to distract the shooter because most people react instinctively to having things thrown at them.

  11. Thomas E*

    I’m not American… Just British. In my workplace there is a possibility that we would have an Armed robbery but the run, hide, fight thing doesn’t make much sense for me… I’d likely be right there as they draw the weapon.

    Our work policy is to give the robber anything they ask for.

    If they’re a nutbar then I’d probably be out of luck.

    1. Kyrielle*

      I think here also, a robber would just be given what they ask for. Someone threatening to shoot would be talked down before fought. The active shooter protocol is for someone with a gun not only out, but being used to fire, and specifically with an eye toward the mass-shooting scenario where the shooter is interested in shooting just anyone. (If the guy comes in, shoots his former boss, and runs out – well, we probably were all running/hiding, but we never had to fight because he made no effort to corner us. Since we can’t know until after he does – or doesn’t – fire at someone else whether it’s targeted to one person or general.)

    2. Turtle Candle*

      To be clear, the rule in American businesses is to give the robber (or mugger, or whatever) what they want, too. Active shooter protocol is mostly for when the shooting has already started, at which point you should just run. (Or hide if you can’t run, or fight if you can’t hide.) It’s also mostly relevant in situations where the shooter doesn’t want something tangible that you can give them. Things like the ‘disgruntled fired employee comes back with a gun’ or ’employee’s ex-husband comes to her salon to kill her and will happily take out everyone else at the salon at the same time,’ or things like the horrific shootings at Sandy Hook, or the Orlando night club shooting.

      So yeah, absolutely, when I worked retail we were told “if someone holds up the cash register, just give them what they want.” But that’s not really the scenario this training is for.

      1. Kelly L.*

        And I think layout matters too. As I understand it, run/hide/fight is more for buildings with lots of rooms and corridors–if someone started shooting at one end of an office building or classroom building, for example, a person at the other end might well have time to exit the building or to get to an out-of-the-way closet or something before the shooter even got close. A cashier or bank teller in a big open space would be in a totally different situation.

    3. Solidus Pilcrow*

      The run/hide/fight advice is trying to compensate for the lag in police response time. Assuming someone calls 911 (or 999 for our British friends) immediately, it will be several minutes until police arrive and even longer for them to strategize, enter, and stop the shooter. You have better chances running for it than waiting for the police.

      In case of a robbery, it’s more reasonable to assume that giving the robber money/goods would satisfy them and they would leave somewhat peacefully if unhindered.

      In the active shooter scenarios most commenters are referring to, there is usually no simple way to satisfy the shooter and get them to leave peacefully. The 2012 Azana spa shooting in Brookfield, WI (suburb of Milwaukee) was a man going after his estranged wife, who was an employee of the spa. Money would not get him to leave peacefully.

    4. August*

      Yup, there’s the exact same “just hand over the money” policy for most American businesses, although I think it’s mostly for retail/food service work, where robberies are more common than nutbars with vendettas. I used to work as a cashier at a big chain gas station, and I always heard horror stories about cashiers who got fired because they did something other than silently hand over the money (like run, hide, or fight, I imagine).

    5. LBK*

      Reacting to a robber is completely different from a shooter. A robber generally only resorts to violence if their demands aren’t being met, so the safest bet is to comply. A shooter’s entire goal is violence – there is no giving them “anything they ask for” because the only thing they want to do is kill you.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      That’s typically what banks tell their employees, as well as a lot of retail businesses. Contents and money are insured; losing them beats someone losing their life any day.

      That said, after doing a ton of research into armed bank robberies (which aren’t really a thing that often; most bank robbers are note passers) for a book, I am very paranoid every time I have to go into the lobby.

    7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think you may be confusing an armed property crime with an active shooter scenario. An active shooter is a person who is purposefully trying to kill as many people as possible. So giving them money doesn’t make them stop. An armed robber’s goal is to get your stuff and get out before the cops arrive, so placating them is a better choice.

      It’s kind of like the difference between a mugger and murderer. A mugger’s primary goal is to get your stuff, although it’s possible that you’re injured/killed in the purpose. A murderer’s purpose is to kill you, and that’s his only purpose.

  12. Jane Librarian*

    The city of Houston has a run hide fight training video on youtube. We watch it like once a year at work and call it good. I emphasize the run.

    1. H.C.*

      Same here in Los Angeles – though we spend maybe 5-10 minutes after the video identifying possible escape routes & hiding spots in our respective workspaces (and another 10-15 with the trainer answering increasingly outlandish “what if…” situations)

  13. Nolan*

    Before my office went remote, we occupied the top floor of an old high rise. No one else was up there, and we had an open floor plan, and you couldn’t see the elevators from our desks. We had cameras on the elevators for roughly half the time I was there, with a weird gap in the middle for some reason, so for part of that you could only hear when the elevator opened but not see who was there until they came around the corner. The bathrooms were the only place to hide, and the camera would maybe provide enough time for people on my side of the space to get in there without being seen. But so few of us were in there, and it was so open, that at best hiding in the bathroom would give me enough time to send a few last SOS texts so that my body could be recovered quickly. I thought about the fact that we were sitting ducks a lot, and was just happy that no one who might have a beef with my company knew that office was there (different corporate address). Towards the end of our time there, it was just me and my boss working out of that office, and he wasn’t around a ton of the time, so I eventually started locking the elevator when I was there alone so only the maintenance crew could get in, which did provide some peace of mind. But yeah, it was kind of scary to think about, especially with my overactive imagination. We were also in a setting where a mysterious bullet casing would raise red flags.

  14. Lab Rat*

    You’re n the security business? I wonder if someone didn’t decide to give you an interesting desk decoration? Still inappropriate. And creepy that no one came forward when they seen you were distraught. I hope it was not malicious.

  15. LisaD*

    Glad you’re OK anyway! I personally wouldn’t be freaked out by this but I’ve read “The Gift of Fear” and absolutely believe that if you were frightened by this, there was a reason.

    1. Leatherwings*

      +100 to “The Gift of Fear”
      The instinct thing he talks about was what I was trying to get across above.

  16. MyFakeNameIsLaura*

    I’m really disappointed/annoyed and a little upset that the OPs workplace doesn’t seem to be focusing on finding the person who left it there in the first place. Because removing the OP is all well and good, but you still have a workplace with someone willing to subtly threaten other people. That is a non-starter, and if nothing else an announcement that the behavior is unacceptable and clarification of policy re: weapons or weapon paraphernalia is in order.

    1. EmmaLou*

      “You still possibly have a workplace with someone…” There was more than one possible explanation that didn’t involve threats as in the last discussion. I was hoping that we’d find out whether it was meant as a threat or if a cleaning person just picked it up off the floor, put it on the desk, and continued vacuuming. Instead it just hangs out there as a possibility.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

        It sounds like it was discussed with coworkers, so if it were innocuous, I think that would have come to light. Not definite, but I know if I had mistakenly placed a casing on someone’s desk, and later learned active shooter protocols were being reviewed and employees being retrained on them, I’d likely pipe up and say “Hey that was me – it wasn’t a threat, I just found it near her desk and thought it was hers” or whatever.

        Again, innocuous explanation is possible, but I think given the OP’s reaction and how she describes her coworkers’ and boss’ reaction, it seems like those are not very probable and it was likely meant to scare her.

        1. ANewbie*

          One of the thoughts that came up on the original thread was that by the time it had spun into the LW feeling threatened, someone who had meant well (or didn’t realize what the item was) might not speak up if they were afraid of being fired or labeled as threatening.

    2. Thomas E*

      I’m really foreign… But I got the impression that there were states in the US where it’s illegal for employers to ban weapons?

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        Contrary to popular belief outside the US, those places don’t really exist in the US. Even in places with liberal concealed carry laws (or none, like Vermont and Alaska) corporations and private property owners are allowed to make their own weapons policy. If a company or homeowner public posts that weapons aren’t allowed, weapons aren’t allowed.

        And I did a quick Google to verify my understanding of this.

        1. anonderella*

          oh goodness.. I didn’t realize how gun-ho some non-US-places think the US is..
          This was also my impression, that workplaces can individually decide, based on state/federal laws.

          It was a special joy for me to have been able to tell some folks in the Southern states I grew up in that they *cannot* carry their concealed weapon into my bar… I thought my $60 ABC license was crap until those moments.

          1. Jessesgirl72*

            Those outside the US really do overestimate the prevalence of guns (and even more so, the prevalence of shootings.)

            But more importantly in this instance, they underestimate the passion Americans hold for individual property rights. Of course there are radicals out there, but the majority of gun owners would vehemently defend a private property owner’s right to ban guns on their property. This concept is even harder for some foreigners to understand, because so many other countries don’t have those kind of property rights.

            1. Myrin*

              I feel like I must be missing something (I’m not from the US) – why would it be hard for me to understand that it’s a respected right of property owners to ban someone bringing guns to their property? I mean, I’m pretty sure we don’t have this specific kind of property right simply because regular people here don’t usually own guns to bring to someone’s house in the first place but it’s not a foreign concept that you have a say about what can and can’t happen to your property. Am I misunderstanding you?

              1. ANewbie*

                There are very few laws that govern what you can and can’t allow on your own property, so even though there’s a big part of the US population that owns firearms, those are not some magical exception to property rights, nor is there any law that says property owners can’t prohibit firearms on their property.

              2. anonderella*

                I think Jessesgirl72 is remarking on how [non-US-people] in locations with less (less than the US has) unanimous zeal for individual property rights, or just less property rights, than the US has might not understand that the US population might be sharply and emotionally divided on gun laws, but within that division there are drastically more people who would defend individual property rights, and thereby forgo their less-strong stance on gun control laws. This sub-stratification is often where the argument lies, and why the US teeters toward, in theory, “Do what you want until you hurt someone,” and in practice, “Do want you want until you *seem* like you’re going to hurt someone – or we *want* you to seem like you’re going to hurt someone.”

                sorry if that didn’t help – that’s my opinion anyways.

                1. Myrin*

                  Aaah, that makes so much sense, thanks for explaining! I have to say that I indeed didn’t know that but it’s not hard for me to understand or anything. You learn something new every day!

                2. anonderella*

                  @ Myrin, Jessesgirl’s comment actually clicked for me too in a way I wasn’t thinking of. Probably because I’m in that sub-strata that gets pulled both ways on gun control laws vs personal property rights.

                  The way I see it, it’s very much a ‘this is my experience, so this is how I feel/what I perceive to be true, and so this is how I will vote.’

                3. Jessesgirl72*

                  Yes, that is exactly what I meant.

                  Gun advocates don’t want the government telling them they can’t carry their guns in places, but they are perfectly willing (in general) to let you, as a property owner, make that decision for your own property.

                  Other countries are more controlling about what you can do on your own property, and a lot of the developing ones still seize property pretty freely- one of the main problems in a lot of Africa, is the governments’ habit of taking your business leaves very little incentive for people to grow businesses. So people who are used to having their property seized or otherwise tightly controlled, don’t always understand American’s passion on that subject. Or even know it’s there, since the Media doesn’t really talk about it.

            2. anonderella*

              this makes absolute sense to me; I’m in the US, and feel pretty strongly about property rights (I am in favor of them).

            3. LBK*

              Eh, I don’t know if the overlap between gun lovers and defenders of private property rights is as big as you’re making it sound. For completely private property, maybe, but there is absolutely a lot of debate among gun owners about whether privately owned public businesses should be allowed to ban open carry (there was a big to-do when Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, wrote an open letter asking gun owners not to carry in his shops anymore).

              1. doreen*

                But as I remember it, even they didn’t suggest that Starbuck’s shouldn’t have the right to ban guns – they were just talking about getting their coffee somewhere else. Very different from saying that businesses shouldn’t be allowed to ban guns – the closest I’ve seen to that is that I’ve heard people say that businesses shouldn’t be allowed to ban someone from leaving the gun in the trunk of a locked car in the parking lot. And even that comes down to the competing private property rights of the parking lot owner and the car owner.

                1. Jessesgirl72*

                  Exactly. They acknowledged his rights to that. They just were going to exercise their own right to buy coffee someplace else. For some of them, it’s a personal safety thing, as they truly believe that an advertised “gun free” zone is a good target to the people who are looking for an easy place to kill people.

              2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                The legal difference is that most Starbucks shops are places of public accommodation, which are treated as semi-public fora (same goes for many retailers). But even with that distinction, private employers can adopt policies forbidding guns on site.

                The Second Amendment is about the relationship between government and private individuals. A Starbucks is not the government; it’s a private “person” with the same property rights as any other private person.

            4. esra (also a Canadian)*

              It’s pretty easy to get #s around gun violence/shootings, and America’s are markedly higher than say, Canada or the UK or Japan etc etc.

              I think what really throws people is the sheer # of guns in the states. The fact that it’s a smaller amount of people just buying a lot… doesn’t seem very reassuring. It’s disappointing to hear that bearing all that in mind, OP’s place of work kind of just shrugged their shoulders.

        2. paul*

          Yep, and employers that allow the public to carry can still dissallow carry by employees (which is what mine does).

          On caveat though; while at will employment means they can fire you for guns no problem, most states have some sort of signage or notification requirement for there to be any criminal charges. In Texas (my state) you have to post a sign (requirements for it are spelled out in statute) at every entrance in a conspicuous place. Which I think is fair, because I’d hate to have a single 4×6″ sign in the bottom of the door make me a felon if I carried past it without noticing.
          Of course once you’re told to ditch the gun or leave, if you refuse it becomes an issue of trespassing.

        3. Elizabeth*

          One does: Kansas. As of 7/1/2016, the only building in the state where the general public is not allowed to carry concealed firearms is the State Capitol. (Legislators are allowed to carry.)

            1. paul*

              You can carry in the non-secured part of an airport no problem; I do pretty regularly. You just can’t take one through security (my wife works at our airport, so I wind up running stuff to her sometimes).

            2. TootsNYC*

              That’s probably a matter of either federal law, transportation agency policy, or owner policy.

              The Kansas one is a state law.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Airports are technically federal land/property, so they’re governed primarily by federal law.

        4. Texan*


          Here in Texas, most businesses have, “No weapons permitted,” notices posted. Now, I have seen at least one restaurant that gives a discount to concealed carry permit holders. But that’s just for having the piece of paper. They probably don’t allow actual weapons. Too much risk involved.

      2. KR*

        The employers can put in place whatever policies they want about what is allowed on their premises. In many states, firearms are legally allowed everywhere except courthouses, schools and some government offices. But most private businesses reserve the right to ban items from their property and consider those who don’t comply trespassers and unwelcome or fire employees of their business that don’t comply. The state-to-state nuances are in what type of weapons are allowed, who has a permit to carry a weapon or whether one is needed to carry, or whether people are allowed to carry a weapon “concealed” which basically means not plainly visible.

        1. North Dakota Jones*

          In TN, companies can prohibit carrying on their grounds with proper signage, displayed prominently at every entrance. Which is fair, because property rights.

    3. paul*

      But unless they have it under video or it’s a very small/secured location how would they stand a chance of finding out? If you’ve got an office with even a dozen + people and doors/cubes aren’t secured, your odds of seeing who did that are minimal

    4. OhNo*

      I agree 100%. At the very least there should have been a company-wide announcement saying “this is not okay”. That is just about the bare minimum that I would expect from any employer when one of their employees feels threatened by someone’s actions (whether those actions were intended as a threat or not).

      I have to say, I also agree with the OP about the active shooter procedures being ridiculous in this scenario. Not because they wouldn’t work in general – they might for any number of possible situations, I don’t really know – but because this situation specifically was perceived as a specific threat against a specific person. Run/hide/fight doesn’t really apply when the first time anyone see the gun, it’s already pointed at you and with a finger on the trigger.

      1. ANewbie*

        Agree that Run/hide/fight doesn’t help if you’re the specific target, but I’m really curious what you think WOULD help, and what the employer’s responsibility is. In this situation, an unknown person may have threatened the OP, but there is no way to tell who it was or confirm/disprove that it was intended as a threat, or if the OP was intended as the subject of the threat.

    5. MyFakeNameIsLaura*

      *sigh* the replies in this thread all prove my unspoken point: that everyone seems much more concerned about gun rights/property rights/states rights whatever instead of actually caring about getting to the root of what happened to the OP. Just wall to wall derail starting with “well, it’s POSSIBLE that a threat wasn’t intended” instead of any other viewpoint and quite frankly I find it disgusting and disappointing based on the usual quality commentary of this community.

  17. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

    My worst case scenario involves a fire extinguisher and blinding him ’til I can get around him and out the door. And certainly a bonk on the head with said extinguisher.

    Really, really hard.

    1. AW*

      Wouldn’t a Carbon dioxide extinguisher also make it hard for them to breathe if you’re spraying their face?

  18. Marisol*

    What about an airhorn as a deterrent? It would be unpleasant for you as well as the person you directed it at, but you wouldn’t be startled and the assailant would be temporarily confused.

    1. paul*

      If they’re shooting (particulary indoors) they’re either already not hearing much of anything, or they’ve got hearing protection on so I don’t think that’d work to well.

  19. TheCupcakeCounter*

    I’m curious if the OP’s veteran status is part of the reaction.
    I don’t want to say the OP overreacted because I know people who would react exactly the same way and others who would go “cool free bullet”. I don’t remember the veteran status as part of the original letter but I can absolutely see someone who has seen combat having a more extreme reaction and feeling it was a threat because of what they have seen and experienced as part of their service.

    1. ANewbie*

      I don’t think that’s likely to be a direct correlation – many vets would react with “Thanks – I’ll throw that in my reloading bucket.” If it had been a full round, then there’s more likely to be a reminder to be more careful, but brass itself is harmless.

  20. Patti*

    Just a tidbit of info….

    Our security team does regular active shooter education now. One thing I learned the last time was that a woman should use her purse to defend herself – it’s heavy, easy to swing, and can catch an attacker off guard. I thought that was something good to remember.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Hahaha, my running joke is always that my purse is a deadly weapon because of all the crap in it. When people laugh at that, I challenge them to pick it up. Their response to doing that is usually, “DAAAAAAMN! What you got in there, a brick?!”

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        Me, too. It’s quite hefty, despite my attempts to cut down on what I carry with me.

      2. EP*

        My boyfriend (a rather large bearded man) is convinced I keep more stuff in my purse for protection, anytime we’re out and I have my BIG BAG, he looks at me like I’m nuts and reminds me that he can protect me if needed, I remind him I prefer to have the option to protect myself thanks.

  21. Lovemyjob...truly!*

    WOW! I would be scared if someone left a casing on my desk like that. I’m glad that you get to work from home but I’m sad that more effort wasn’t put into finding out who left the casing in the first place.

    Active shooter training is always a sobering training for me. My kids had ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) drills at their schools over the last few weeks. I know that Active Shooter training always makes me feel unsettled so I can only imagine what my kids are thinking as they go through an actual drill in their school. What bothers me more is that they assume that this is normal. I guess in this world it is the new normal…just makes me a little sad.

    1. ANewbie*

      It seems like it’s this generation’s version of the duck and cover nuclear bomb drills. I can’t say I’m happy with the replacement instead of no threats, but at least with an active shooter there’s things we can teach them that make a difference – hiding under our desks wasn’t going to do a thing to protect us from a nuclear bomb!

    2. catsAreCool*

      I’m from Gen X and remember the school I was in being evacuated because of a bomb threat on occasion.

      1. Kelly L.*

        We had three or four bomb threats within a few weeks when I was in high school. It later turned out one student kept falsely calling them in to get out of class.

  22. TootsNYC*

    re: fighting as a last resort

    There was this video–I’ll let you Google. “Homeless Man Dies Saving Hostage Victim”

    It was in Brazil, and the man died, but he was active and mobile for many very powerful moments even after taking his first gunshot wound. So, yeah, you don’t want to die, but if you have no choice, and you’re likely to be shot anyway, your sacrifice might make a really big difference for someone else. “Greater love has no man than this…”

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, it’s a fallacy that shooting someone makes them immediately drop. You’d have to have exquisitely good aim to do that, they’d have to be restrained, or else you would be really lucky. I took a citizen’s police academy course several years ago, and we got to use the tactical simulator. It’s much harder than you think to hit a moving target in a lethal area.

      And I would like to add, part of the reason for that is the HUGE rush of adrenaline coursing through your body. We hadn’t realized until we used the simulator how true that is. I can’t even imagine what it’s like IRL. Likely that kept the man going for a while, also.

      1. North Dakota Jones*

        There was also that bank robbery/mass shooter in Miami near Tamiami trail – a pair of bank robbers got into a shoot out with some woefully unprepared (due to standard/policy of the day) FBI agents. The robbers got shot multiple times and kept shooting. Eventually the last one collapsed, and the agents relaxed for a moment, only for the robbers to start shooting again. When he feel to the ground, blood rushed to his head, returning him to consciousness. He was able to fire a couple dozen bullets after receiving what would be a fatal wound.


        1. AW*

          When he feel to the ground, blood rushed to his head, returning him to consciousness.

          You mean that TV/movie cliche of “You thought the guy you shot was dead but he gets up long enough to fire another shot after everyone’s back is turned” is LEGIT?!

    2. paul*

      There’s an interesting but disturbing youtube video of a guy delivering a presentation to some European military body; not sure if it was to NATO, another coalition or his own countries armed forces, but it wasn’t English, Spanish or Japanese (the three I’m sure I’d recognize), so I found a version with subtitles. All about the effects of gunshots on the human body. The videos the presenter were showing are hard to make out (since the videographer’s focus was on the presenter rather than his screen) but the subtitled explanations were generally enough to make out what was happening, and holy cow. The reactions were all over the map. One guy got shot 3 times point blank with a revolver, and KO’d his attacker. Another went down like a felled ox after getting shot with a .22, etc. The lesson I took was basically, if I have to shoot someone keep shooting till they stop or I’m out of ammo, and pray it works.

    3. TheLazyB*

      The MP who was murdered in the UK recently, I read a news report of the trial that said that even after she was fatally wounded she was getting others to move away and save themselves.

  23. Ritchie*

    Just this week my reporter boyfriend received a book to consider for review about guns, and, I guess to make it stand out, there were bullet casings in the package. Terrible judgement.

    1. Office Plant*

      Wow. The casings were added as a gift to the reviewer? They don’t come with the book? People really need to step out of their little bubbles and realize that things like bullet casings mean different things to different people.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I just remembered that I once got a bullet casing as a bonus with a book too. It was a book about zombies, and I was buying it directly from the author at a convention, and you could, if you wanted, pick up a “zombie survival kit” along with your book. It had a bullet casing along with, IIRC, some candy and other trinkets. But it didn’t just randomly appear in the mail! You had a choice and knew what was in the baggie.

  24. Darth Blivious*

    I recently started a job at the Washington Navy Yard. I am in the very building where that loon was shooting people in, I think, 2013. People here seem to be hyper-aware about the shooter scenario, since it happened pretty recently. My coworkers have some “I was there” stories. I have not had any training on the subject, but maybe it’s annual, and I’ve only been there a few weeks now. And of course I am Bloodsucking Contractor Scum, rather than a Noble Civil Servant.

    In my previous job, I spent the summer of 2010 full time on campus at the University of Virginia. At the time, they had had a recent shooting, and now all the classrooms had a “panic button” within easy reach for the instructor.

    1. DCGirl*

      I once worked for a nonprofit that had been impacted by the Hanafi siege, although I worked there long after it happened and the group had moved to another building. We had regular drills and there were panic buttons in the office. I wish all employers took workplace security that seriously.


  25. Sami*

    I haven’t read through all the comments yet so this may already have been mentioned but your office needs ALICE training.

  26. cheeky*

    My company requires us all to do annual active shooter training, and the gist of it is that your options are to “get out, hide out, and take out,” in that order of preference. So your perception of your options is correct, unfortunately.

  27. Former Retail Manager*

    Glad to hear that the situation worked in a manner that seems to be okay with OP. Stay safe!

  28. Former Camp Counsellor*

    The ‘throw things’ is part of the ‘fight’ option but you should be having practical training drills on the fight part.

    It’s for groups. It involves blocking windows in the room you are in, turning out lights, positioning the group to the side of the room with 3-5 people at the door opening. You place a chair or upturned table at the door to trip/distract the shooter as they enter, the group in the corner/side simultaneously throw assorted items *across* the shooter’s line of vision to distract the eye-line and (again simultaneously) the 3-5 at the very side of the door opening tackle the shooter (one at the legs, one over the arms, and the rest as pile on) then more can pile on. The idea is immobilization.

    But again, incredibly important to actually do these drills.

  29. Mrs. Fenris*

    I’m confused-did the OP ever actually figure out where the bullet casing came from?

    From my (unusual) perspective, I would mostly just be puzzled if I found a bullet casing on my desk. I work in an animal hospital. Especially when I worked in an emergency hospital, all sorts of things ended up on or near my workspace that had come in, one way or another, with patients. I would probably figure that a pet owner had brought it in along with their pet who had been shot. I came in once and there was a plastic ice cream tub sitting on a nearby counter. I didn’t think much about it at the moment, but I’m glad I didn’t just randomly open it. There was a dead copperhead inside.

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